Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Typical Day At The Coalface

As usual on the day after an extended public holiday the remand court had a heavy list yesterday morning, with something like 45 cases - a dozen or so in custody, and thus taking priority.
There was a good mix of the serious and the run-of-the-mill. A few reports cases were in for sentence, which is not ideal listing practice on the first day of a short week such as this, but we were able to deal with them. One led us to the unusual decision to impose our maximum sentence of two consecutive six month terms. The defendant concerned had simply exhausted every option that the justice system has available, having previously breached all kinds of community penalties, as well as suspended prison sentences with complex punitive and rehabilitative requirements. So off he went down the steel stairs, showing no sign of surprise. We made a number of curfew orders, something that we are finding more and more useful these days. They amount to virtual house arrest, and an order for, say, four months from 7pm to 7am daily, backed up with a tag, is a real loss of liberty. In these resource-driven days they also have the advantage of not needing pre-sentence input from probation, saving time and money, and of being administered by contractors, again freeing probation from the task.
A man denied touting as an unlicensed taxi driver, claiming to have been dropping off a few friends as a favour, an assertion that was undermined by police ANPR records of him visiting one busy local location 200 times in three months.
So the day went on, but by about 2.45 Court 4 had finished their trial, and offered help with our list, allowing us all to finish by about 4.30, in our case with an exceptionally nasty search warrant for the Child Protection squad, the information for which offered some almost-unbelievably revolting allegations about what a father had done to his son.

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