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He ducks in and out of the small brick sandwich shops and coffee bars, passing the hair salon and the little metal statue of two geese.Everything is as it was that June day when Mark carried the six-inch knife they had bought together."Skilled writers of fiction would struggle to conjure up a plot such as arises here." From John's laptop emerged what the prosecutor would subsequently describe as "an Internet soap opera moving from one scene to another, each character and story line more fantastic than the last." The plots were extracted from what John had seen both in films and in life: thick with treachery, villainy, and betrayal. John had always been "a very gentle, slightly withdrawn personality," his lawyer, Jonathan Goldberg, would inform the prominent Manchester judge David Maddison in his courtroom, but harbored, despite his introversion, dreams of someday becoming a barrister himself.On the whole, Goldberg thought, a teenager who could spin such tales was headed in the right direction."Your Lordship may think he would make a very good barrister." (His Lordship, as it happened, did not.)Certainly John possessed the determination and industry necessary for success.From four in the afternoon to seven in the morning, he typed his inventions into his laptop. When he stopped going downstairs for meals, his slight frame shrank even further.Then Mark pulled out the knife and called an ambulance.Some madman had attacked his friend, the boy told the police.
Blood pooled inside the boy's body cavity, and this restricted the movement of his diaphragm, which stopped the functioning of his lungs.
It is clear he doesn't have much sympathy for the boy whose brush with death prompted the unprecedented charge.
"I would say, of the two teenagers, John was the more wicked and more criminally culpable."For months John had corresponded in an Internet chat room with Mark, a bland-featured 16-year-old who possesses as his most striking traits a vast forehead, a tendency to open every sentence with "Ermmm," and, it would later be claimed, an almost infinite store of credulity.
"He was kneeling on me saying, ' Trust me,' holding the knife to my stomach…. " screamed John."Don't say that," begged Mark.
There was blood coming out." Somehow or other, the boy added, he found himself dragged once again to his feet, then the knife plunged back in. "Don't let that be the last thing you are saying."And so John crumpled, a drained, pallid figure muted forever, he thought, by the tall, light-haired boy he considered "perfect" and "out of my league."Minutes passed, perhaps as many as 20.
For days he lay on a respirator, treated with painkillers and antibiotics, saying little.