BROADCHURCH: The Miller Trial Continues

As the second series of Broadchurch began, it was expected that the conviction and sentencing of Joe Miller for the murder of Danny Latimer following his confession would be a formality. However, after Joe’s shock change of plea nothing is certain and it’s possible that he could walk free after all. And if he really wasn’t guilty, does this mean that Danny’s killer is still at large?

Like all things related to Broadchurch, the trial has taken a number of twists and turns over the last few weeks, so here's a summary of the main events so far.

With the trial underway, events are now out of the hands of detectives Hardy and Miller, and what happens at court is down to the skills of the relative QCs in the trial. Sharon Bishop is acting for Joe Miller, and local resident Jocelyn Knight acts for the prosecution. The QCs have a history – and it’s not a happy one – so neither sees defeat as an option.

The first act of the defence was to have Joe’s confession thrown out as inadmissible on the grounds that Ellie had attacked him during his questioning. With no guarantee that the confession hadn't been obtained through police brutality, it was disregarded as evidence meaning that the prosecution would have to prove their case through evidence and witness testimonials.

Things got off to a poor start when under questioning Hardy was forced to admit that Joe Miller would not have had exclusive access to the family laptop and to Danny’s phone. Both Tom and Ellie could have used them, meaning that anyone could have sent Danny texts and emails. The conviction of Joe was supposed to redeem Hardy in the eyes of those who thought he had failed at Sandbrook. Now it looks as if his errors of judgement, including letting Ellie in to see Joe, might once again lead to the collapse of a case.

Things got worse when Ellie took the stand. First there were suggestions about her suspicions about Joe’s predilections and whether their relationship had been in any way unusual. She assured everyone that she had loved her husband and had no reason to suspect him of anything. Then she was accused of having an affair with Hardy and that they had framed Joe to get him out of their way. What other reason was there for their late nights at the police station and Ellie’s visit to Hardy in his hotel room after Joe’s arrest? None of this has done anything to improve the shattered relationship between Ellie and Beth. 

Beth too has had her home life put under the microscope as details of her marriage and Mark’s infidelity with Becca Fisher were revealed to the jury and also that on one occasion he had hit Danny. 

The prosecution regained some ground when they produced a character witness, an old colleague of Joe’s who recounted an instance of Joe’s explosive temper that had led to a serious assault. This seemed news to everyone, in particular Ellie. However, it certainly fits in with Joe’s now retracted account that he killed Danny in a moment of madness.

Ellie’s sister Lucy took the stand too where she told the court that she could definitely identify Joe as the person she saw in the early hours of the morning on the night of Danny’s death. This was a change from her statement to the police where she had not named anyone, and Ellie had begged her not to vary it. Fortunately Lucy managed to stand up to cross-examination.

Also changing her story was a surprise witness for the defence. They brought Susan Wright back to town and she testified that the figure she had seen carrying Danny’s body onto the beach was her own estranged son, Nigel Carter. Fortunately Susan’s testimony was picked apart in no time by Jocelyn Knight, much to the despair of the defence, and she was shown as a pathological liar who was trying to get revenge on the son who had rejected her. Jocelyn even mentioned Susan’s threat to Maggie to illustrate exactly the sort of person that she was. Even the defence agree that calling her was not their best move.

Nige later stood to rebut Susan’s claim. He wasn’t the most elegant of witnesses and got angry and flustered at the questions put to him, but at least he managed to say ‘No’ in the right place.

Meanwhile, the defence had been putting pressure on Paul Coates to stand as a character witness for Joe. Paul was reluctant because he knows how his reputation will be affected in the town, especially if it becomes known that he has been visiting Joe to pray with him. Paul has told Becca that he found Joe 'unrepentant' so maybe he also felt that in good conscience he could not speak up for Joe. 

As the trial moves forward, it could go in either direction. Both teams are determined to snatch victory although at least one member of the defence team is convinced of Joe’s guilt herself. Now two new witnesses are preparing to step up. To speak for Danny, Mark Latimer will take to the stand. And controversially and against Ellie’s wishes, Tom Miller will speak out for his father Joe. Will he reveal anything new about the circumstances of Danny’s death?

Broadchurch starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman continues tonight on ITV at 9pm, and at 10pm on TV3 in Ireland.