The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If You Aren't Sure - Ask!

Aggravated Vehicle Taking is a common enough offence. The aggravated bit is when damage is caused to the vehicle or to something else. The case in front of us looked straightforward, and we had a guilty plea from a nervous-looking man in his early twenties. The prosecutor opened with the brief facts that our man had taken a Volvo motor vehicle and... I stopped him. "What sort of Volvo?" "Er - excuse me sir, I shall just look at the file....yes, here it is. A Volvo commercial vehicle". He went to carry on. "Does your file give the gross weight of this vehicle?" Another lengthy pause with scrabbling in the depths of the file. Triumph. "15,750 kilos, sir." "That's more than fifteen tons, isn't it?" Panic while he recalls his GCSE maths. "Yes, sir, that's right". Now that we know it's a proper truck, the taking and the subsequent collision all drop into context. Prosecutors are often overworked and under-supported, but in this case we could easily have sentenced on the basis of the defendant nicking a car and bending it rather than the real one of a potentially lethal scenario.