Court in the act
I’m so busy at the moment: work is a bit mad; I’ve been given a date for my driving course, which is very exciting; and I spent a day last week at Crown Court in a wounding case where I had chased a suspect before a colleague had caught them ahead. And that is what I’m going to write about: Crown Court.
This case, on the face of it, was a strong one: a glass-in-the-face attack at a pub, the suspect legged it as we turned up. I chased him until I lost sight of him rounding a corner, a colleague was on that street ready for him. He had blood all over his clothes and another officer, at the scene, seized the glass that had his fingerprints on it and the victim’s blood. So, even without witnesses – and there were some – the guy was stuffed.
But, as is often the case, they plead not guilty and opt for Crown Court trial. That means that all the witnesses have to turn up on the day and hang around while well- spoken men and women in gowns and wigs bargain with each other. The offender was in custody but we still had his family hanging menacingly around; though we made sure that the witnesses were well away from them in the witness care area. They stay there until they are called to give evidence.
All day we paced and waited, eventually the court had whipped through the easy stuff, like plea and direction hearings and sentencing, and then, after lunch, it was our turn. So having sat there all morning we got to the point of having a jury sworn in and guess what he did (at this point anyone who knows anything about the legal process will be shouting the answer at their computer screens): he pleaded guilty. Agghhhhhh.
Why do they do it? A whole morning waiting – time off work for witnesses, court time booked etc etc. The simple answer is that a guilty plea, even at this late stage, will get them a sentencing concession; they wait until the last minute just to see whether all the witnesses will turn up -they don’t always, and this means frantic chasing around to find them.
Anyway, I suppose the result is still the same: GUILTY.