I climbed back onto the bike and set it into first gear, then slowly made my way down the drive. I kept my feet off the rests, hanging at the sides, ready to support me if the bike started to go over, as it did a couple of times. Eventually I got onto the road, turned right in the direction of Little Hamford. It took me only a few moments to realise that I was in no fit state to ride the bike. Out of the woods in the final dregs of daylight that remained it was clear that my vision was very skewwhiff, something was seriously wrong. I also felt that I needed to go to sleep. I managed, mostly by instinct and luck, to make it down to the main road, where I turned in the direction of Cromford. Just past the junction was a layby. I pulled in, parked up the bike and pulled out my phone.
I sat there on my bike wondering who the hell to phone. There was no way I could phone my parents. What would I tell them? That I had been part of an SM orgy. No thank you. The question was who could I phone? I knew I needed help. For a moment, I considered calling 999 — this was an emergency, at least for me — then I remembered what Tom had said. If I had problems I could phone him any time. So, I did. As I dialled him I became aware of something uncomfortable trickling down my leg. I got off the bike and looked. There was a dark stain forming on the inside leg of my jeans; I was certain it was blood.
I must have sounded like a demented idiot when I spoke to Tom. He kept asking me questions and I would burst out crying. Eventually though he told me to stay where I was and he would be with me as soon as possible. I heard him talking to somebody else in the background, and then he told me they were on their way. Who 'they' were he did not say.
I must have passed out or something for the next thing I knew someone was shaking my shoulder, and I looked up to see Tom, and an old guy standing behind him.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
"Bloody awful." I responded, "The world won't stay still."
"Tom, he's bleeding." the old guy said, "We need to get him to St Mary's A&E."
"Don't worry about that, it can go in the back," the guy stated. "Give me a hand, Tom, it's too much for me to lift. The two of them took my bike and lifted it into the back of one of those big American-style trucks. The ones with the big cabin at the front with two rows of seats and a flatbed truck behind. Then they bundled me into the back seat. I was worried about the blood on the upholstery. When I mentioned it, the old guy told me that was why he had thrown a blanket over it.
With that he climbed into the front passenger seat and threw the keys to Tom telling him to drive as he had to make some phone calls. As we set off he started to dial a number.
"Could you put me through to duty desk please," he stated to whoever answered the phone. "Stephen Meadows of Meadows, Court and Jacobs, solicitors." There was a pause then he started to speak again. "Sergeant Righton, Stephen Meadows, I've just picked up a young motorcyclist at the layby on the Tonhess Road just past the junction with the Little Hamford Road……Yes, that is the one……He is not in a good shape, traumatised with indication of a haemorrhage from the anus. We are taking him directly to St Mary's A&E. Can you advise them we are on the way in please? … We are about a mile from the junction with Cromford Road, we will be turning onto Cromford Road, then at the island we'll going onto the main road to the hospital … You will? That is most helpful … Yes, I suspect it is … Thank you, Sergeant, I will see what I can do."
With that he disconnected the call and put the phone into a holder on the dash board. He reached back, asked if I was alright, to which I mumbled something, and then he picked up a briefcase that was in the well between the seats. He opened the briefcase, took out a sheet of paper and a pen, then asked me my full name and date of birth. I stated them and he entered them onto the form, then wrote something else and passed the form and pen back to me, telling me to sign the form.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Good, I'm glad you have the sense to ask. It is a letter of instruction to act for you as a solicitor in a temporary capacity."
"Do I need a solicitor?"
"Yes, Leo, you do. Although you are of age to have sex you are still a minor and you have certainly been subject to sexual violence. Given your age and the circumstances — which is that you are not in immediate risk of further assault — it is a bit of a fine balancing act for the medical officer dealing with you as to whether he should report it. Given the present climate regarding sexual assaults, they almost certainly will.
"Anyway, I had to use the police to advise the hospital that we are on our way in, so they are ready for you. That means they have some idea of what has happened, and you can be sure they will want to investigate."
We were now on the Cromford Road and I became aware of a flashing blue light behind us. I looked through the rear window and saw two police cars with their blue lights on coming up behind us. Tom slowed down a little and pulled over to the side of the road. The lead car passed us but the second car seemed to slow down and take up a place behind us. As I looked round at the car that was now in front, a sign lit up in its rear window reading 'FOLLOW ME'. Tom flashed the headlights. The front car switched on its siren and speeded up, and Tom put his foot on the accelerator to keep up.
I vaguely recall the convoy going through one set of red lights as we approached Cromford but then I must have passed out again. The next thing I knew I was being lifted out of the rear seat of the truck and onto a trolley. A nurse was talking to Mr Meadows asking if he was my parent.
"No," he stated, "I'm his solicitor." The nurse looked surprised. "This gentleman," he indicated Tom, "is my clerk." Tom looked surprised. The nurse wheeled me into one of the examination bays and helped me change into a hospital gown. She did some basic tests and told me I did not appear to be in a critical condition so the doctor would be probably twenty minutes to a half hour before I was seen. She then asked if I wanted my friends in, I said yes, so she went and told them they could stay for the moment but would have to leave when the doctor came.
"What's that about my being your clerk?" Tom asked. Mr Meadows pulled another sheet of paper from his briefcase.
"Well, Tom, we don't want Leo to have to go over everything twice, so it is easier if you are my clerk, that way you can sit in on the police questioning and take notes for me. Sign this." He pushed the paper across to Tom.
"What is it?"
"It as standard internship agreement we use for students who are working in our office over the summer period. You don't get paid, you are expected to work all hours and you are treated like shit. At least you have the chance to be with Leo when he needs a friend. Let me assure you he is going to need a friend. Now I'm going to get a hot chocolate — always avoid the coffee from the machines here. Do you want one, Tom?" Tom said he would like one, with which Mr Meadows stepped out of the examination area and left us.
Rather feebly I asked, "Who is he?"
"That is Cromford's very own dirty old man, GayAuthor. I was at his place when you phoned."
I looked at Tom questioningly. "Oh no, Leo, we weren't doing anything, though I wouldn't have minded. He is really good in bed and very considerate. No, I often go round on a Saturday evening just for a game or two of chess and to help make some inroads on his collection of fine whisky. Fortunately, you called before he started on the whisky."
Just then the doctor came in and Tom had to step out. My blood pressure and vitals were all taken and I was attached to no end of different machines. At one point I started to panic as my legs were being pushed back into the same position as they had been in that contraption. The doctor ordered an injection and pretty soon I was off in LaLa land.
When I came to Tom was sitting at the side of the bed holding my hand. Mr Meadows and a large man were standing at the end of the bed talking with the doctor. Tom told them I was awake.
The doctor came down to me, checked some of my signs and then asked some questions. The thing was she did not ask about the rape or anything, just general question about how I was feeling. A lot better now was my answer.
"Right, Leo," she said, "You were clearly raped by some people who are experts at it. They prepared you well so the actual physical damage was minimal, though there was some. I have seen a lot worse in these sorts of situations. So, you were lucky. There has been no major tearing of the rectal tissue, though it is badly bruised and inflamed. There is damage to the sphincters and the anal canal has a lot of minor tears which we call fissures. None of them are major and they have all started to heal, but that is why you were bleeding so badly; there were just a lot of them. We will be keeping you in overnight, but you should be OK to go home in the morning. Now these men want to have a word with you."
Mr Meadows came over and introduced the large man as Detective Inspector Rawlins.
"Leo, I know you probably want to sleep at the moment," the DI said, "but it is important that we get as much information as possible as quickly as possible. First though, we need to contact your parents. They are not at home; do you know where they are?"
"Do you have to?"
"Yes, Leo, you are a minor, so we have to inform them, unless we have good grounds to believe that might put you at risk. Do you think that they will try and harm you if they find out that you're gay?"
"No, they'll just be disappointed in me as usual. They are at my Aunt Jane's. They were going for the weekend. The number is in my phone." Mr Meadows opened his case and removed my phone from it. I looked at him.
"Leo, the police had to take you clothes for forensic examination, so I took charge of your personal property. It is all in a bag in here." He tapped his case. "Now what is the unlock code for your phone?" I gave it him, he unlocked the phone and then checked the contacts, not that I have many. Found Aunt Jane's number and read it out to the DI, who then called a sergeant who was standing outside and handed him the number and told him to make the call.
The sergeant left and the DI started to ask me questions. What surprised me was he asked me how I had met Master James. I must have looked surprised.
"Oh, it was fairly clear who had done this from where you were picked up and what had been done. You are not the first and unfortunately I doubt if you will be the last."
For the next half hour, I was questioned in detail about the events of the day. When I mentioned the strange taste of the cola the DI instructed the sergeant to ask the doctor to do some blood tests for drugs. A nurse came back and took some more blood. Shortly after I was moved from A&E onto an observation ward, but was told that unless there were any real problems I would be released in the morning.
Just after the move my parents arrived. I was not up to facing them so pleaded tiredness, a friendly nurse gave me a tablet which he said would help me sleep. Mr Meadows informed my father that he was my solicitor and was handling the matter with the police. That was about the last thing I recall before going to sleep.
The following morning, I was woken about seven thirty by an over-happy nurse who informed me that the doctor would be coming round about ten and I would probably be discharged then. He served me something he stated was breakfast. I asked him what he was so happy about.
"Kid, we need to keep happy in this place, otherwise it would break us up. Last night we had twelve admissions and we've still got twelve patients alive, if not all that well. That's something to be happy about."
With that he left me to my fruit cocktail, undrinkable coffee and flabby, cold toast. I suppose he had a point. A nurse came round a bit later and checked my vital signs, to be followed by Mr Happy who told me that so far as they could see I would be going home. To be honest all I wanted to do was sleep. I told him.
"No doubt you do, kid. It will be the after-effects of all those sedatives you took." I looked at him, shocked.
"I didn't take anything."
"Then someone gave them to you."
Just then Tom appeared carrying a large shoulder bag.
"All ready to get out?" he asked.
"S'pose so, though I would much rather sleep."
"Well, I picked up some clothes for you from your place. Don't blame me for the selection, your mother and some bossy girl sorted them out."
"That would have been Maddie. Christ, I'm going to have to tell her everything." I wondered how come she was back, had expected her to be in London till Sunday evening.
"Unfortunately, Leo, that's the case. She had me pinned to the wall for ten minutes demanding to know what I had done to you."
"Yes, she is a bit protective, took Taekwondo lessons as a youngster so she could protect her twin brother, has extended it to all her brother's friends. I don't fancy telling her or my parents, but I suppose it has to be done."
"You are right there," Tom replied. "Stephen felt the easiest way to handle it was to have a meeting in his conference room where he can control everything."
"Who's paying for all this," I asked.
"Cromford LGBT Support Group; we take care of our own."
Cromford is not that large a town, more an oversized village, and I know most groups in it. That was one I had not heard of. "Just who is the Cromford LGBT Support Group?"
Tom looked a bit sheepish for a moment then answered. "Actually, it is Stephen, with a bit of help from me and my ex-partner Mark when we are around. At the moment Mark's off backpacking in Oz."
"Oh, I don't think so. If he had not been in Oz he would probably have met you first. He seems to get to all the nice boys first." I looked up at Tom's eyes and there was a look in them not quite of ownership but not far off.
Just then the doctor came round, did a quick check-up of me, and I was discharged, with strict instructions to avoid anal sex for at least three months. Did not think that was going to be a problem — I never wanted to think of anal sex again. She also told me they had started me on post-exposure prophylaxis and I had to be careful to keep strictly to the regime of tablets and take them at the right time. Tom took me to Starbucks for a drinkable coffee, and then we went to Mr Meadows' offices. I was surprised; it was Sunday morning but reception was manned. The woman at reception must have known Tom because she told him to take me up to Mr Meadows' office and that Mr Meadows was seating everybody in the conference room.
About ten minutes later Mr Meadows came through and escorted me into the conference room. Mam and Dad were seated on one side of the table with Maddie at the end. DI Rawlins was at the far end of the table. Mr Meadows indicated that I should take the seat between him and Tom.
To be quite honest everything was a bit of an anti-climax. Mr Meadows and DI Rawlings had already explained the events of last night to my parents and to Maddie, who it appeared was very insistent on being present. The DI confirmed that the blood tests showed I had taken a benzo-diazepam, although it could not be shown who administered it. As a half-used strip of Lorazepam was found in the rear pocket of my jeans it was a good bet that if any prosecution was attempted the defence would claim that it was self-administered and their client had no knowledge of it.
I protested at that point that I had never taken any drugs.
"I believe you, Leo. For a start, your fingerprints were not on the strip and it would have been difficult to get a tablet out without leaving a fingerprint," the DI responded.
For a moment I was puzzled about how they had got my fingerprint, but then remembered that I was fingerprinted three and a half years ago when John, Simon and I had some fun with the town Christmas tree. We got let off with a caution but were all fingerprinted and we all suffered from major hangovers without any mercy from our families. They just seemed to want to lecture us which made things worse.
"Look," the DI stated, "this is not the first incident of this type involving Mr James Halmdean." At the mention of the name my father went white. He worked for Halmdean Engineering, by far the largest employer in the area. The DI noticed it. "Don't worry, sir, the old man is well aware of his grandson's activities and has cut him off from the family completely. Unfortunately, Mr James' mother did not believe a word of it so left him her personal fortune which was quite considerable and finances his lifestyle.
"There have been a number of complaints in the past, but we have never been able to provide sufficient evidence to get a conviction. The one time we got him into court the case was thrown out because there was clear consent. It was recorded on video. As no doubt your consent was yesterday, Leo. The lad in that case was given a safe word and when he used it they stopped. Turned out they videoed everything, just to cover themselves. No doubt they did the same with you, Leo.
"I must say that for these types, I may not like what they do, but they do stick to their own rules and if you safe-word they stop, though they make you feel like shit for doing so."
"Look, we will put everything we have got to the CPS, but to be honest, I do not think they will agree to prosecute."
"What about the video?" Mr Meadows asked.
"What about it," the DI responded.
"Well, Leo is seventeen, therefore if they recorded anything they are sexually explicit images of a minor. Sexual Offences Act 2003 raised the age to 18?"
"Don't know if we will get away with it but it is worth a bloody try," the DI responded. "I'll organise a warrant today."
"Right." Mr Meadows looked to my parents and Maddie. "I am sure you have questions you want to ask Leo. Can I suggest you leave them for the time being? The boy has been hurt and badly messed up. You've been given the details. I am arranging for some counselling for him. Let him deal with it at his own speed and let him tell you about it when he wants to, if he does."
In the end there was no prosecution. The CPS stated that there was sufficient doubt about whether knowing consent had been given for the case to be dismissed. With respect to the video material, Master James could fully claim he thought I was eighteen as that is what I had put on my profile on the site. It would then have to go to the jury who would have to decide on my appearance in the video alone as to whether I was eighteen or not. As DI Rawlins remarked, I looked older than my years.
Stephen Meadows did initiate a civil claim for aggravated trespass against Master James. It never went to court. The writ was returned with a cheque for the full amount of damages claimed. Mr Meadows did say that at least they had put him on notice that he was being observed.