Hopes were high in her mind that she had made the promenade along the seafront in Brighton safe for vulnerable people when Rochelle drove to Brighton the following week. That no gangs of youths would be there to harass anyone. As she parked her van outside of the chip shop, she had a glance across the road and seeing no menacing gangs, felt assured that she had made things safe for everybody. Therefore, she disembarked and began unloading the van.
“Excuse me miss,” a female voice called out from behind Rochelle.
She turned around to see two female police officers standing in front of her. The shorter blonde officer had asked the question while her taller, about the same height as Rochelle and dark haired colleague stood looking serious. Even though Rochelle could guess why the two officers were there, she still asked them, “Can I help you?”
The taller officer then spoke, “Do you come to this area every “Wednesday?”
“Yes, I make deliveries to this chip shop,” Rochelle confirmed pointing over her shoulder with her thumb.
The taller officer’s expression grew more serious, almost grim. “Were you involved in an incident involving some youths across the road?” She was pointing to the spot where Rochelle had confronted the gang.
Not wanting to trap herself, she carefully explained, “I did stop a gang of thugs from harassing and older couple and who had been also harassing a vulnerable young man.”
“In that case, we are arresting you on suspicion of assault and causing grievous bodily harm.”
A sudden sense of the surreal swept over her as Rochelle got into the back of the police car. “Surely, they know that this is a mistake,” she thought to herself and clung tightly to the hope that the officers would see sense. This surreal sense continued while she was questioned at the station. The two officers seemed to be totally deaf to her insistence she was acting in self-defence. When Rochelle told her account of what she told the boy who had pulled a knife on her, the shorter, blonde officer seized the chance and retorted, “It sounds like you goaded him into attacking you.”
“He had a knife on me! I was trying to get him to put the knife away and leave those old people alone,” Rochelle explained trying to hold back her anger at the apparent ignorance of the two officers. “What would you have done if they had pulled a knife on you?”
“It doesn’t matter what we would have done,” the taller officer interjected. “We have twelve statements from witnesses saying that you were clearly goading that young man into going for you. That you did so by insulting his masculinity. You might not have thrown the first punch but you wanted him to do so in order that you could show off your martial arts skills. Besides, we know who you are now, Rochelle Dibley or should we say ‘Rocket’ Rochelle Dibley, undefeated professional MMA fighter. You wanted to show these kids how tough you were.”
“No! I just wanted to stop those yobs from harassing innocent and vulnerable people. I phoned you twice to report was going on. If you had done your job, I wouldn’t have had to!”
She regretted saying the last bit even before the taller officer came back with, “So, you decided to take the law into your own hands.”
“I just wanted to help them,” was on the tip of Rochelle’s tongue but she drew it back, fearing that if she had said that, it would have landed her in more trouble. It would not have mattered much because right after, the two officers instructed her to wait while they left the room. After three quarters of an hour on her own, the two officers returned with a larger male officer, obviously a superior. With his rugby player like build and greying beard, cut very short, the officer stood across the table from Rochelle as if he was an animal displaying his dominance.
“You’re not from around here,” he began. When Rochelle nodded, he continued, “You don’t know the boy you assaulted, he’s the son of one of Brighton’s leading city councillors. You don’t realise how much trouble you could really be in. Fortunately for you, the parents aren’t pressing charges. Besides, the boy thinks it cool that he got knocked out by a professional cage fighter. If we did prosecute you, we’re afraid you would be made out to be some sort of hero in the eyes of the media and your chosen profession. We would be made to look like the bad guys and the Brighton Police does not need that sort of negative publicity. However, us not charging you comes with one condition, you don’t ever come back to Brighton.”
“What about my job?” was all she could think about.
“Well, I’m afraid that it’s a case of your job or you facing prison time. If you are seen in Brighton, you will be arrested.”
Although she felt the whole thing was a cover up, Rochelle felt that she had no other choice than to agree to the terms. The trip home seemed even longer and she was just glad that her final delivery of the day accepted her explanation of being so late was down to traffic in Brighton. The entire time she was extremely worried over how the whole affair was going to affect her.
Things took a fortunate turn for Rochelle when she told her boss about what had happened in Brighton. The boss did not want to lose a good delivery driver and he liked the fact that he had a ‘celebrity’ working for him. Furthermore, he said he was getting a little stir crazy in the office so he thought a trip one day out along the coast would be a good break. Therefore, he happily took over Rochelle’s Wednesday delivery route while she stayed in the office to do administrative duties.
Upon his return from his first Wednesday deliveries, the boss informed Rochelle, “It’s good you didn’t go to Brighton, there was police car parked by that chip shop and they were watching me. They left after ten minutes. They were probably just making sure it wasn’t you.”
Rochelle shrugged, “It’s great the police can spare a car to watch in case I came back to Brighton but they couldn’t spare any to stop those yobs harassing people.”
Eventually, thoughts about her experience in Brighton began to dim although they would never completely vanish. One positive was those thoughts spurred her on at her next fight, she knocked her opponent out in ninety seconds.
Six weeks later, returning from his delivery to Brighton, the boss relayed an observation from his trip. “I saw a gang of kids on the sea front promenade, yobbos or what? They threw a disabled man off of his mobility scooter and took turns joyriding on it while the man lay there. It was disgusting, I should have called the police.”
“They wouldn’t have come,” Rochelle consoled him. “And if you tried to do anything yourself, it would have been you being arrested.”
The boss nodded in agreement, nothing would have been done.