Monday, March 06, 2006

Just Make It Up

I represented a Client recently for an offence where he had pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention as he had managed to knock a cyclist from his bicycle whilst driving. The cyclist had received an injury to his face, the injury was not life threatening. The Crown Prosecution Service facts stated that the accident had occurred by the driver bumping the rear wheel of the bicycle. My Client accepted these facts.

I mitigated on behalf of my Client explaining the unfortunate series of events, and the unfortunate circumstances that my Client found himself in. The lay Magistrates then retired to consider their course of action and returned. The Chairman of the bench started his speech in which he adjourned the case for sentence by saying, "We have been told that you nearly killed the cyclist". Now this phrase came out of nowhere and had not been used by anyone during the hearing. The injuries that the victim had suffered were not described as life threatening and quite frankly the Crown Prosecution Service had not suggested that anybody's life had been in danger.

I jumped up from my seat and interrupted the Chairman. I said, "Sir, no one has suggested that Mr. Bloggs had nearly killed anyone." The Chairman replied, "Well, that is the view that we have come to". I persisted with my representations and eventually the Chairman backed down and accepted that he had come to the wrong conclusions. I was quite concerned that if the Client had appeared at Court unrepresented he may have found himself being sentenced on facts that this maverick Chairman had more or less made up!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's the problem of having lay people doing a job that they have minimal training for. There are some great Magistrates but if they wanted to be in judgement why didn't they just get on and become a Judge ...

Archbold, the cat

David said...

Sadly, seen it so many times, dont look to the so called "profesional" either. I've seen a few judges get things wrong!!!

Bystander said...

Why did they adjourn for sentence in a Due Care?

Gavin said...

Failing to stop was another offence thrown in to the mix. Sorry, I should have mentioned that!

M2KB said...

Failing to stop? Bah, eat him alive in that case. I felt for him up to that point!!

Anonymous said...

Similar thing! Client pleaded guilty to handling a stolen caravan and transit van value £12,000 with previous for same. In deciding to adjourn for all options reps chairwoman stated that they considered it serious because he was profiteering from his activities despite being told by CPS that he had kept both vehicles for two years and used them daily in his business. I pressed them as to why they thought he was profiteering, she said because they had come to the conclusion that he was going to sell them on despite nobody ever raising that point!!!

Indigo said...

That's terrifying. Why did I ever think that magistrates would be rational?

Last year our Freeholder took us Leaseholders to the LVT (he lost 90 per cent of his application, by the way). Part of what we were resisting was the terrorism insurance; at the end of the preliminary meeting the chairman said with great assurance that residential property should have terrorism insurance in case would-be bombers moved in next door and blew themselves up by mistake (this happened in Madrid). But that scenario is not an insured risk ...