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.

My Photo
Location: Near London, United Kingdom

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

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Some You Win.........

We sat on a trial today, listed for four hours as there were three civilian witnesses and two police officers. As usual, we could not start at 10 a.m. because two prosecution witnesses and one for the defence had not yet arrived and the defence lawyer had not spoken to his client, because the said client had the misfortune to be arrested on another matter last night, so was unavailable for a consultation at 9.30 a.m.

We grudgingly allowed time for things to be sorted out, and we finally got under way just before 11 a.m. By this time the missing prosecution witnesses had turned up, and faced with that fact, coupled with the absence of his only defence witness (who had turned off his mobile phone) our man threw in the towel and changed his plea to guilty.

The offences were quite serious, so we ordered pre-sentence reports since it looked as if a community sentence, or quite possibly prison, were on the cards. Probation started the reports process but it soon became apparent to them that there was much more to our man's background than met the eye at first, so they asked us to put it off for three weeks to allow a thorough look at his offending and his background. We adjourned the case, and I gave him the usual warning that he was facing prison and that he must co-operate with probation (not as obvious as it sounds - 35% don't turn up for the interview and have to be arrested).

So that was the four hours (more than half a court day) gone. We helped other courts with their cases, and finished fairly early.

Our defendant gambled and lost on the possibility of the prosecution witnesses not turning up. Unluckily for him they are employed by a large employer that has a policy of always supporting prosecutions of offences on their premises. Sadly, his gamble was based on a reasonably good assessment of the odds - but there are no certainties.