Sunday, 26 February 2012

Mini-Pupillage - Day 1 13/2/2012

On Sunday 12 Feb I got an email from the barrister I mentioned in this post, which said: "Still on for tomorrow? Friend of mine has returned a bloody mags prosecution, so I'm stuck with it. Wimbledon, if you fancy it"

Three sentences to kick start a mini-pupillage.

The barrister I was with, who we're going to call "Eddie" is of about 10 years Call (became a barrister 10 years ago), and so hasn't really worked a great deal in the Magistrates' Court ("the mags") for about 5 years. The work in the mags is normally of a less serious nature than the stuff in the Crown Court - at the start of your career you'll spend most of your time there to reflect your experience level, before doing more and more Crown Court work the longer you've been practising (in theory, any way). After 5 years call, or so, a decent barrister would expect to be spending most of their time in the Crown Court - hence Eddie's frustration at being stuck in the mags for a day.

The charge was a fairly boring 'theft of a motor vehicle'. The facts were hilarious.

Two young men were walking along the street with a moped. One of them was holding on to the handlebars and steering it; the other was carrying the rear wheel off the ground because the padlock was still attached. So far, so stupid.

The hilarity occurs because this was during the time of the London riots (last summer) and so there were a fair number of police around. As these two intelligent young men were wheeling their, obviously, stolen property along a VERY main road in London a riot van with 14 officers drove past. The riot van stopped, 12 of the officers piled out of the van in full riot gear, and gave chase.

12 elite police officers chasing 2, fairly stupid, 17 year olds.

The two men dropped the moped, ran off down a side road and were met with a dead end. They jumped over a 6ft fence at the end of the road and disappeared from the view of the pursuing officers.

Officer Rock (not his real name), who from the accounts of the 7 police witnesses is a bit of a hero (6ft6, sprints like an olympian, built like a tank) followed them over the fence about four seconds later and landed on them both.

Yep, on the other side of the wall, our two young offenders found themselves in wasteland, and tied up in a load of brambles. After jumping over the obstacle they found themselves tangled up in thorn bushes.

Officer Rock didn't know they were tied up and used them as a crash mat as he leapt the fence, dislocating the shoulder of one of the delightful little scamps in the process.

They were duly arrested and, utterly bizarrely, protested their innocence. The defence they gave in both the police station and at court was that "it wasn't them, they're just homeless and they live in the wasteland, in the 4 seconds that the police lost sight of the suspects over the wall, the real perpetrators must have made their escape, and they (the defendants) were just easy arrests".

This is, of course, ignoring the fact that neither of them was homeless and they both said in cross-examination that they hadn't seen anyone else come over the wall. In other words "it was someone else, but there wasn't anyone else there".

Eddie, of course, ate them for breakfast. He got them to admit that they had been running from the police; but not because they had been stealing: instead because they had skipped bail on another matter and didn't want to be rearrested. When he asked them: "In that case, why did you run TOWARDS the police?" (the evidence they gave), they just looked embarrassed.

The magistrate convicted in 5 minutes, and so concluded the first day of my mini-pupillage with Eddie.

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