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A Tale from the Court... what goes around...


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It's about time the boy racers and other sundry clowns on the road took account of technology. Dash cams are really rather helpful.

I was to chair a trial today of a 22 year old accused of driving whilst disqualified, dangerous driving and sundry other motoring offences.

At the start of the trial, his advocate stood up and asked for the offences to be put to the defendant again, at which point he pleaded guilty. We then became a sentencing Court and at that point found we were also sentencing the defendant for identical offences on a previous occasion for which he had stood trial and been found guilty. In fact, the offences we were originally to have dealt with were committed whilst the defendant was on bail for the first set of offences. Are you getting the picture?

The prosecutor stood up and asked if the witnesses could be released and we invited them in to the Court so we could thank them personally. One witness, a man of middle age, was having none of it though and asked if he could stay to observe the sentencing which, of course he was perfectly at liberty to do. His was to have been the CPS evidence in the case were were supposed to have dealt with at trial.

The prosecutor explained that the witness's car had been equipped with front and rear mounted cameras and we agreed to view the video to guide us toward a suitable sentence. No point in going through the videos at length except to say that, after one particularly dangerous manoeuvre, the defendant felt it necessary to put his right hand out of the window with his middle finger extended in the time honoured "one finger salute". This fact will be significant later in my tale.

Normally, a Bench would not sentence to immediate custody without the benefit of a pre-sentence report but in this case, the defendant already had two previous convictions for drive whilst disqualified and dangerous driving and had served a short prison term on the last occasion.

We were satisfied that justice would be served by an immediate prison sentence and we sent him away for 12 months in total, along with a ten year disqualification pending passing an extended driving test. We further issued a forfeiture and destruction order for the car, a rather tidy Audi A4 worth in the region of £5K to £6K.

In pronouncing sentence, the Bench Chairman indicates to the dock officers that sentencing is complete by saying "Take him down" and, as I said these words I couldn't help but notice the previously mentioned witness, stony faced, arms crossed and staring fixedly at the defendant and, if I didn't know better, I'd have sworn that the middle finger of his right hand was extended, albeit briefly, towards the defendant.

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