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.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Nice Day

There's nothing to beat a nice straightforward trial, especially when it gets off to a 10 am start with no complications, and moves to a verdict at 3.45 pm and a sentence twenty minutes later. That's what I was given this week and it was a welcome change from several heavy days in the remand court. It was an allegation of Common Assault, and the issues were mostly factual - who did what, and was he acting reasonably when he did it?
We heard from the (at this stage alleged) victim who gave clear and confident evidence, and who was, unless I am very much mistaken, a former police officer. We heard from six witnesses in all, only one of them truly independent. This lady had been snatching a crafty cigarette outside her place of work, and saw most of the incident. Another lady gave evidence for the defence, but let slip that fact that she knew someone who works with the defendant and that her daughter was a 'friend' of the accused. When she responded to a question with "he was only doing his job" we knew that her evidence should be treated with caution. We then watched five minutes of CCTV that was helpful if not conclusive. We were lucky to be faced by competent advocates - a Crown Prosecutor of much experience and a solid and mature local solicitor.
We retired to consider the case and agreed on a guilty verdict within a few minutes. Best of all, the assault being relatively minor and the defendant being a man of previous good character, there was no need to order reports with a view to a community or custodial sentence, so we got on with it there and then.
A Conditional Discharge and compensation to the victim seemed spot on to us so that's what we did. Unfortunately for the defendant the conviction will have implications for his job, but that was not for us to consider.
As a final bonus I was not the Chairman, because I was sitting in on a Chairman Under Training, so I had plenty of time to absorb the ebb and flow of the evidence, and the nuances of the witnesses' testimony. A good day.