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Birmingham Crown Court Visit

18 February 2020

On the 18th February, during half-term, A-level law went on a trip to Birmingham Crown Court. We intended to watch the legal process take place, in order to consolidate our understanding from lessons. Therefore, groups split off to ensure we looked at a myriad of cases, to ensure that we covered the functionality of the court in a range of circumstances. The day started with an introduction by the court Usher, who gave some history of the crown court, and how the proceedings there were carried out. After this, students were given a list of the days cases and were then allowed to explore the court, being able to enter into the public galleries to watch some of the day’s proceedings. Students were able to witness a wide variety of cases, from GBH to Firearms offenses.

The first group, in regard to their GBH case, were able to listen to the argument presented by both the prosecution and defense barristers. They were able to listen to a witness give evidence and be cross examined.

Group two: Ellie, Izzy, Jamie and Amy initially planned to watch a case on the conspiracy to murder however, we were unable to attend the case as the court hearing was cancelled. However, this enabled us to watch a range of cases. Initially, we saw a cause involving two defendants who were accused of trying to obstruct the course of justice – only one plead guilty. It was significantly interesting to evaluate the dynamics of the court room, which appeared hostile towards the defendant who pled not guilty.

The second case was one of grievous bodily harm and the defendant themselves appeared an intimidating character. He plead guilty to two charges of GBH towards a 10-year-old and 12-year-old however, the circumstances in which this occurred remained nebulous. It remained apparent that he was on cocaine and drunk at the time of the attack. However, he was also a schizophrenic, as identified by a medical professional, which was identified as a mitigating factor.

The final case we watched, but never saw the verdict, involved a man convicted of dangerous driving from 2018. However, he pleaded not guilty, as he stated he was not the person driving the car. Furthermore, he claimed that he sustained injuries from a police officer, rather than the accident and stated that his claims weren’t investigated. Additionally, the police had not followed protocol by disposing of the car from the accident, which would have acted as evidence in the case. He was using legal aid for his case, and through his barrister, claimed Birmingham Crown Court would be prejudiced against him and that he felt unsafe. The judge labelled this as unfounded assertions, without evidence and therefore void.

Eleanor Dart and Joshua French