Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Unleashing the dogs of law.

Levi McCarthy's Last Caper, originally uploaded by Colonel Blink.

This is Flossie. She used to belong to Levi McCarthy and was at the centre of the last two fingered salute he gave to the law. She is an old lady now but can still be found every day sleeping in a Norwich City centre jewelry shop

Levi was, depending on your point of view, either a criminal or a counter-culture local hero. Like all such people the stories about him grow and grow but this one I got from the horse's mouth.

In the days just before his death from a heart attack Levi was still a familiar face around Norwich; a big man you could hardly miss him in his blue Crombie coat. He had taken to traveling around on a moped with Flossie his dog in a basket at the front. As someone put it to me 'a young copper up at Bethel Street police station wanted to impress his superiors' and charged Levi with endangering the public because it could cause an accident if the dog jumped out of the basket.

Came the day of the court case. The policeman made his case and Levi who was defending himself stated that his dog would never jump out of the basket. He then persuaded the magistrates to go outside the courtroom and look for themselves. He had he explained left her in her basket in the car park. There then followed five minutes of farce as various officers of the court unsuccessfully tried to call and cajole Flossie out of the basket. As a result the case was dismissed and Levi was found not guilty.

It was quite easily done of course. Levi had got up at 6am that morning and taken Flossie for a twenty five mile walk. The dog was so tired it could not have got out of that basket if it had wanted to.

My favourite Levi story I got from one of the night editors of the Eastern Daily Press after he had left his job and become a stamp dealer. In the late 1960s he had been at work in the press office when they got a visit from an angry Levi holding a baseball bat. The cause of the fury was that they had reported one of his court appearances and in it had called him McCarthy throughout. This he felt was disrespectful. Those present agreed (unsurprisingly) without hesitation, the anger subsided and their visitor left. After that visit Levi was always called Mr McCarthy in the local press and never plain McCarthy.

Levi died in 2002

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