Being in the public eye makes life harder when you break the law.
By Katherine Jones
“Arnett!” Lizzie jumped to her feet and made her way across the waiting room to the door being held open by the white coated man. He beckoned her through to a dimly lit corridor and then snapped handcuffs on her with a silent menace.
Lizzie now walked in front of the man, head bowed, reflecting on how she had found herself in this awful situation. Lizzie Arnett was a 41 year old TV sports presenter living a happy and satisfying professional and personal life in the north of England. However the events of a Saturday, four weeks ago, spent working in London had turned her life upside down.
Lizzie was the sports mad tomboy who had turned into an attractive blonde haired woman of 5ft 4in who had landed her dream job on TV sports. Easy on the eye and confident on camera, she was a well know face across the country but particularly in her adopted north of England. She lived happily with her Head Teacher husband and 15 year old son 45 minutes’ drive from the TV studios in the city.
That Saturday in London had been just another routine assignment but an early 5am start from home and a series of train delays and very overcrowded carriages had made it an exhausting experience. When Lizzie finally got off the train with her two male colleagues at 9.30pm the suggestion of a quick drink in their usual city centre pub seemed to be a good idea. She collected her car from the station car park and moved it into a tight space in the very packed pub car park ready for the final home leg of this exhausting day.
A very affable hour of conversation and laughter and two large glasses of white wine later, Lizzie left the pub and made her way to her car. She was now very tired and rather carelessly reversed out of her parking space and thought she might have touched the car parked behind her but could not really be sure. She decided to drive on without really giving a second thought to what might have happened and then quickly became overtaken by a desire to find a place to pull in from which she could ring her husband Dave to tell him she was later than expected but on her way home.
10 minutes down the road, Lizzie’s car was parked in the roadside and as she finished her call home the lights of a Police car, with its siren blazing, came into view and pulled up behind her very recognisable silver sports soft top.
Bemused, Lizzie began to get out of her car as two officers, one male and one female, emerged and moved towards her from the blaze of lights which was the parked Police car. She was shocked to hear that she had in fact clipped the car in the pub car park which, as she later learned, belonged to the pub landlady and owner. A loyal customer taking a smoking break had seen the incident and recorded the number of the silver sports car which had left without reporting the accident. He immediately phoned the Police.
The implication of this news was still sinking in for Lizzie when the WPC asked: “Madam, have you been drinking tonight?”
Lizzie said: “Yes, I had a glass of wine,” and began to explain the long day and the awful train journey as the female officer prepared the breathalyser. The red light appeared immediately as Lizzie blew into the machine and the full enormity of her situation began to dawn on her. She remembered that she had not eaten since lunchtime and then only a quick salad provided by the production team.
“Only just over the limit,” the female officer commented and then added: “You had better come with us.”
In shock, Lizzie locked her car remotely, passed over her keys to the WPC and then held her hands out in front of her to meet the handcuffs proffered by the male officer who then gently pushed her head down into the back seat of the Police car.
How could she have been so stupid? What a mess this was going to be! Lizzie’s mind was in turmoil as she sat silently while the Police car drove through the lights and noise of Saturday night in the City towards the Central Police Station. It turned into the station compound and reversed into a steel cage which was linked up to the main building. Did the officers recognise her? Who would hear of her arrest? What would her mum and dad think? Would the papers know? How could she contact her husband? How do I get my solicitor to help me? All these questions were running through her mind as she made her way head down and handcuffed through the cage into the station’s Charge Room.
Lizzie shook herself away from these memories into the reality of the immediate as she followed the white coated man into what was obviously a medical facility. A young woman, also in a white coat and in Lizzie’s view probably no more the 30 years old, sat behind a desk working on a computer. Lizzie was pushed through the door into the room.
“Arnett, is it?” The young woman asked looking up. “Please take a seat.” Lizzie sat and waited as the young woman tapped her key board and eventually said: “So, you are Liz Arnett the TV presenter who has had a bit of bad luck?”
Lizzie nodded and then asked: “So what happens now?”
“Well it won’t be very pleasant I am afraid.” The very frank answer came followed by a friendlier: “I am Lucy, by the way, your Correctional Officer and I will take you through the process today.”
Lizzie was relieved to find a friendlier tone and relaxed slightly as Lucy began to talk.
“This must have been a real shock for you?” She asked.
Lucy Turner was a trained nurse who had joined the Correctional Service at the start of this new regime of corporal punishment, 18 months ago. She believed in the value of short sharp corporal punishment bringing a mixture of physical pain and humiliation. However, she now worried about the number of young women coming through the Centre largely following drug related or shop lifting arrests. Drink driving was also prevalent but tended to involve older, more affluent women. She had felt little initial sympathy for the well remunerated 41 year old TV presenter when she had first learned that she would oversee her punishment but now, having seen Lizzie Arnold in this humiliated and frightened condition, her firm face had softened slightly.
Once Lizzie’s detention had been approved by a rather star-struck custody sergeant on the night of her arrest, she had been further tested by the Police Station’s breathalyser machine. Lizzie was still just over the limit so was required to have a mug shot and finger prints taken and her height measured. She then gave a recorded interview with the female arresting officer.
The mug shot was deeply humiliating and made her feel like a real criminal for the first time. The interview was short and rather officiously conducted but at the end, as the tape was turned off, the female arresting officer suggested that it might be in Lizzie’s best interests to admit her guilt and ask if she could be considered for an enhanced community punishment.
The Government had reintroduced corporal punishment in 2016 as a component of enhanced community orders and in certain cases offenders could avoid a formal charge and conviction if they admitted guilt and opted for this type of disposal. At the conclusion of the interview Lizzie was informed that she would now be detained in a Police cell but the WPC agreed to discuss a community option with the custody sergeant.
For Lizzie anything which avoided the horrific adverse publicity a drink driving and leaving the scene of an accident conviction would bring had to be worth a try. As Lizzie was led to her detention cell she felt more optimistic but also remembered a colleague who had filmed a TV piece on the new corporal punishment regime and come back to the office saying she would do anything to avoid her “arse being caned in one of those places”. As the cell door closed behind her Lizzie was in a state of complete shock and turmoil.
Two hours later and with her solicitor now on the scene Lizzie was released from custody having now passed a breathalyser test and signed an agreement to accept her culpability and an enhanced community order. If she completed the full terms of this order it would mean that no further action would be taken. Therefore no publicity; no embarrassing court appearance and no driving ban, just a sore bottom and a large cheque paid in costs and to charity in lieu of the community service requirement.
Her lawyer explained that she would soon get a letter telling her when and where to attend for the corporal punishment to be administered but to remember that this was not a soft or easy option she was taking. This all seemed to be too much in the future for Lizzie to think about as she was simply relieved to be out of the Police Station and on her way home at last.
Lizzie went back to work on the following Monday and made no mention of the events of Saturday/Sunday. However, she was desperately keen each evening as she arrived home to look at her post. Sure enough, on the Friday, a brown envelope had arrived containing instructions for her to attend the City’s Correctional Centre to receive 17 strokes of the cane on her bare buttocks. 12 strokes was the minimum sentence for drink driving as Lizzie was not very far over the legal limit when arrested and the additional 5 strokes was for the non-reporting of the accident. The cheque demanded for £1,000 costs and a contribution to charity was the least of her worries, the dread of the humiliating fate which awaited her was now all consuming.
Two days later the story was out and the tabloids reported that TV sports presenter Lizzie Arnett was due to be caned for drink driving. Who had leaked this? Lizzie was distraught and her world was again thrown upside down. How could she go on working? What would her family say – her mum and dad; her son at secondary school? The papers even knew the time and date of the appointment at the Correctional Centre.
Her lawyer stepped in and had the date for the caning changed, bringing it forward so that everything would be completed before the tabloids were aware and could camp out for humiliating photographs of Lizzie arriving at and leaving the Correctional Centre. She took leave of absence from work and kept her head down waiting for the dreaded day of the lashing. Maybe the court appearance and driving ban would have been a better option, she now thought?
Lucy explained the next steps. A blood pressure, heart and pulse rate check, then off to the punishment room. Lizzie was, at 41 years old, in very good condition and worked out 4 or 5 times a week at a local gym. Lucy tested her and then reported that, despite her high stress levels, she was fit to undergo the punishment. A quick phone call by Lucy revealed that no punishment room was available and they must just wait.
Lizzie resisted the temptation to ask any more details of what lay ahead and anyway Lucy filled the silence with relatively sympathetic questions and comments about the impact of the awful media coverage Lizzie had received once the story broke. She even called her Liz rather than “Arnett”, which Lizzie appreciated.
Then suddenly the phone rang, handcuffs were back on and they began the last leg of the journey together. This involved crossing a wide courtyard into a large warehouse type building. Going in through the main door, Lucy directed Lizzie through a second door marked “Punishment 4.”
The room was clearly to be the last stage of the journey, but it was smaller than Lizzie had expected and was bare except for a cupboard, desk and three chairs and the dominating presence of a padded metal frame in the centre of the room – the purpose of which was obvious.
Lucy looked at Lizzie, taking in her expression of horror at the sight of the metal caning frame. She gently released the handcuffs and then asked Lizzie to undress below the waist. Lizzie began rather reluctantly to comply. She slowly removed her shoes then her black jacket and handed it to Lucy. Needing to move on to more sensitive garments her hands trembled on the buttons of her tight fitting black trousers but she eventually released them and pushed the trousers to the floor. Standing in her black thong, she asked Lucy if it was really necessary to remove this final piece of protection. Lucy confirmed that these were the rules. Off came the thong, exposing a tightly cropped mound of dark hair which Lucy couldn’t help but notice as she eyed Lizzie’s athletic legs and tight bottom. Her white blouse and bra were now all that covered her.
“Follow me,” said Lucy, leading Lizzie towards the metal frame. Arriving at the base of the frame, Lucy asked Lizzie to kneel down.
“Is all this really necessary?” Asked Lizzie in a tone which annoyed Lucy.
As a consequence, she retorted: “Just shut up, Arnett, and bend over!” She pushed Lizzie roughly in the small of the back until she was kneeling with her body resting on the padded frame. Lucy then quickly cuffed Lizzie’s hands as she followed the instruction to reach out to the far end of the padded frame.
Her work done, Lucy moved back to her desk and picked up her phone to say: “Arnett is ready now.”
Lizzie was unable to move and very conscious of the exposed nature of her bottom and the likelihood that all of her most private areas were now on full display. Then a door opened behind her and she heard a male voice talking to Lucy. She shouted out: “What is happening?”
There was no reply from Lucy, but Lizzie saw the man, also in a white coat, move in front of her, testing the straps and cuffs and carrying a threatening looking rattan cane. It was obviously that the thrashing was about to start and that in all likelihood this man would deliver it.
How exposed Lizzie felt, laid bare across the frame, knowing that the man would be looking into every exposed private orifice of the TV personality he was about to punish.
Then without warning came a whoosh through the air followed by the sting of the impact of the cane. Seconds later, an excruciating fire erupted across the middle of Lizzie’s bottom. ‘I can’t take 16 more of these,’ she thought, forgetting her humiliation and exposure and focusing instead on the extreme pain.
She closed her eyes and waited for the next blow which came quickly but slightly lower down her bottom and forcing an involuntary cry from Lizzie, who felt tears welling up and then bursting out onto her face. Whoosh, the third stroke was followed, in rhythm now, by the fourth and fifth leaving Lizzie panting and crying. With six and seven came an involuntary shout and then a cry forcing its way out and then after the eighth stroke, which struck her at the top of her thighs, she sobbed uncontrollably.
Then a pause came in the rhythm as Lucy moved from her desk to touch and inspect the developing welts on Lizzie’s bottom and listen again to her pulse.
“Continue,” she said imperiously to the man.
“No, I can’t take anymore,” shouted Lizzie.
“You’ll get through it, they all do,” retorted Lucy, resuming her seat as the infliction of the ninth stroke took Lizzie’s breath away.
Ten and eleven followed. Twelve caught the crease between Lizzie’s buttocks and thighs and was unbelievably painful. Thirteen and fourteen were agony but at fifteen Lizzie could see the end in sight. Sixteen was across the top of the thighs and forced a huge sob and scream but the seventeenth and final stroke seemed to be served up with a new viciousness across the crease, low down on Lizzie’s bottom and producing a huge crescendo of agony and release. The door banged and the man was gone. Lizzie lay motionless and crying, still held by the bonds of the metal frame.
Half an hour later, Lizzie left the front door of the Correctional Centre supported by Lucy who passed her to her husband Dave who led her gently to his car. It was agony and beyond humiliating but it was over, she thought, as she lay face down on the back seat.
Home that evening and lying in bed, again face down, she reflected optimistically on the options for resuming her career. She had agreed that she would issue a personal statement accepting responsibility for her foolishness and the consequent punishment. Lessons learned and some charity work to follow. A temporary role behind the scenes had been agreed with producers and then a return to working on camera in the New Year.
This was all manageable, she thought, then suddenly her musings were interrupted when her phone beeped to indicate an incoming message. It was a text from her agent telling her to look immediately at her twitter account. Quickly Lizzie grabbed her iPad, logged in and saw the explosion of tweets with her name headlined and with mounting horror viewed very clear footage of a women strapped to a metal frame receiving a caning. How could this happen? Who had leaked this? What of her comeback now as the world looked in on her nakedness and total humiliation?
© Katherine Jones 2014