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Magistrates Court

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iloveglee | 09:35 Tue 29th Jun 2021 | Law
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Can anyone clarify in more details as to whether an alleged crime brought before the magistrates would be sent to the crown court, if the defendant is a serving police officer. He is suspended currently so is still employed by the police force.

I have looked at all the government website information, and it seems that the case is an 'either or'. I know he could plead guilty in which case its just a matter of who deals with the sentencing. He could plead not guilty, and elect to go to trial by jury, that's pretty straightforward. Where my uncertainty lies (I will explain later on), is whether the magistrates would automatically send this to the crown court as it's a fairly senior serving police officer.

Last September, one of my grand daughters was sexually assaulted by above mentioned officer, whilst she was employed by the same police force, in the same office as him. They were out on a social event at the time. This was not a rape by the way, neither is she under age, being nearly 19 at the time. If either of those were the case, it would be straightforward, crown court automatically.

If he pleads not guilty, and does not elect trial by jury, and the magistrates decided to try it, would this be done at the time, or does some time elapse before the defendant is brought back to the court for the case to be heard. It wouldn't matter under normal circumstances, but her parents and two grand parents are due to be away on holiday the day this goes into court, and if there is going to be a trial in front of the magistrates on that day, they would want to be around to support their daughter.

She has given a witness statement by video, and has been told she will not have to face him in court as her identity will be protected. However, it's a big thing to have to go through and none of us want her to face what could be a tried case, without her family being around. The holiday can be cancelled or postponed but it's hard to find out the exact procedure/timing that these things take.

I understand that there is a huge backlog of crown court cases, so if it goes there, it would be well into next year.

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Question Author
That's an easy to read link, thanks. It's the timing of these things, and whether serving police officers are deemed to be something a magistrate would not want to try, for this kind of case.

If we could be sure that this is not going to be tried on the day (the second day of a 2 weeks holiday away), we'd not be so concerned to know.
No, it won't be tried on the same day as the plea hearing.
Question Author
That's kind of what I wanted to know, whether the case would be tried there and then. I don't seem to be able to find out how long between a plea hearing, and a case tried by magistrates. I imagine these days what with all the social distancing etc, it's not possible to work it out.

It will have taken almost 12 months from the date of the offence, to get to the magistrates court, so who knows. The police have been very good at keeping her informed as she has since left the service, but until the plea hearing has taken place, I guess they're as much in the dark as she is.

She does believe he will plead not guilty and may decide he has a better chance of convincing a jury of his innocence than he has of convincing the magistrates. Hard to know.
Would a jury ever be sympathetic to a senior police officer accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague? I suspect not, I think that is something this police officer would want to avoid, but who knows?

It will certainly take longer than 2 weeks from the time of the plea hearing to the trial whether that be in mags or crown court. With a bit of luck he will plead guilty.
Question Author
I hope he pleads guilty, but the people who know him think he's much too arrogant to do that. One would think that juries would take a dim view of what he did considering his position and the responsibility and duty of care he had to junior police officers. Which is probably why they have taken it so very seriously. Juries can be tricky sometimes though.

I'd have thought that it would be in his best interests to plead guilty, or at least have the magistrates deal with it, if they will. That way the maximum sentence would be less than if a jury found him guilty. There is a fair bit of evidence against him extracted from my grand -daughter's phone, and given that he refused to give his pin for his phone and they had to send it to a geek somewhere to have the information on it taken off, made it appear that there was something more to hide. He has maintained no comment throughout.

I think that my daughter will be relieved if she thinks that nothing particular will happen on the day that we're away. Presuming that we actually get to go away, the way things are looking for holidays abroad just now it's getting less likely by the minute.
Keep us updated, I hate creeps like him, especially when they are in authority.
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Me too. Yes, I'll try to remember to post on the outcome. It appears that the police officer that came round to the house to update her told her she doesn't need to make herself available for the magistrates court, but will need to for the crown court.

Which leads me to think that they suspect (or know) that he'll elect for trial by jury. Either that or the magistrates will not want to deal with it.
She's a brave woman, reporting it. Well done, her
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Yes indeed she is brave, she could have just thought oh well it's one of those things, you have to put up with it. Errr no you don't!! What decided her finally was that he had authority over, and a duty of care to young trainee officers, and she didn't want for another young woman to be subjected to this but not be in a position to say anything.

Although she was the newest and most junior member of staff at that time, having only been there for a couple of weeks, he was not in her actual line of management, but his behaviour was abuse of power in any case. She felt intimidated and embarrassed to say anything at the time, and I feel absolutely sure he's going to use this as part of his defence - 'well I thought she was ok with it, just joking, banter, boys will be boys etc.'

But she's moved on. She has another job that she loves, she has support from someone, a friend of mine, who has a great deal of experience supporting women through this kind of case, plus family support etc.

She'd like to see him get his just desserts, but her main issue was making sure he is never in a position where he can behave like this towards other young women, who maybe cannot speak up. And he won't because at the very least he's likely to lose his job.
//...whether serving police officers are deemed to be something a magistrate would not want to try, for this kind of case.//

That is not a consideration.

When a defendant enters a "Not Guilty" plea to an "either way" offence the Magistrates hear the facts alleged by the prosecution and the basis of any defence. They then decide whether to retain jurisdiction themselves or send the matter to the Crown Court for trial. The basis of this decision is whether they believe, in the event of a conviction, their sentencing powers (six months custody maximum) will be sufficient. If they decide to keep the case themselves the defendant then has the right to request trial by judge and jury in the Crown Court. Note this right does not apply the other way round - he cannot demand a Magistrates' Court trial if the Magistrates decline jurisdiction. If the matter is heard in the Magistrates' Court and the defendant is convicted the Magistrates retain the right to send the defendant to Crown Court for sentencing if, after hearing all the facts during the trial, they believe their powers are insufficient.

A defendant appearing on a matter like this will only be asked to enter a plea at the first hearing. If the trial is to take place in the Magistrates' Court there will then be a "case management" hearing. This is to sort matters out for the trial - the issues in dispute, which witnesses are required to attend, the amount of court time needed. This will probably be a week or two after the first hearing. The trial itself will be some time later - possibly some months. If it goes to Crown Court the delay will be even greater.
Question Author
Thanks for all the responses. At least everyone supporting her can be more or less certain that the appearance on 13th september will not proceed any further at that stage. Other than if he pleads guilty? But in that the case the witnesses will not need to be called which would be the best outcome from them.

The received perception is that he will plead not guilty, and will probably request trial by jury. Currently he is suspended from work on pay, and it's already been 9 months. Should this go to the crown court it'll probably be at least another 9 months, or most probably longer.

My grand-daughter has moved on though. She has another job in a different organisation which she loves. She believes he deserves to understand that you cannot do something like that, and get away with it. Sadly many men do get away with it. Mostly what she was concerned about was that he didn't get to continue in a job where he had young personnel under his jurisdiction, who may feel they couldn't say anything for fear of their job. He hasn't got such a job now and hopefully won't have in the future, even if he doesn't lose his employment altogether.
Keep us updated :)

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