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.

Friday, August 10, 2007


The victim was a public-service worker, in a fairly ordinary capacity. Going about her duties she was confronted by a man who was rude to her, and who added some crude and threatening sexual innuendo. There were members of the public nearby, but the victim prudently retreated into a nearby office and locked herself in.
The man who had confronted her was arrested and charged, and then pleaded not guilty, so the victim had to give evidence in court. I chaired the trial.
She spoke from behind a screen, so we could see her, as could the clerk and the lawyers, but the accused could not. She was provided with Witness Support, something that is very well done in my court, mostly by trained volunteers.
She was clearly in a state of severe anxiety, and her body language suggested that she was not at all happy. Nevertheless she gave a clear account of the incident, and when it was the (unrepresented) defendant's turn to cross-examine her I was determined not to allow any intimidation - but there was no need as he only asked a couple of questions. We convicted him. In the prosecution's opening address we had heard that the victim had been on light duties in the six months since the incident, and we could understand why.
As these things go, the case was relatively down-scale: no blow was struck, but the impact on the victim was clearly long-term and serious. Sometimes even the calmest of us can be thrown off our life's track by a threatening incident such as this one.
We put the case off to be sentenced by another bench, our reasons form indicating that we felt it was in the custody band.