I was in a trial Court today and at one point I had to stop the trial, sending the prosecutor out through one door telling him not to return until he had calmed down, and sending the defence advocate out through the other door with the same instructions.
We on the Bench really thought they were about to come to blows. Funny in the first analysis, but, given more thought, not a ringing recommendation for British justice. The prosecutor, in particular, caused us some concern. He is usually so laid back that he has a castor on the back of his head... if you see what I mean.
We are well aware that the defence advocate in this trial can be a bit of a ... trial in her own right and in fact I have crossed swords with her on several occasions but today's display was ridiculous.
By convention, an advocate will wait for their learned friend to finish before addressing any points made. Today it was like a bear garden interupting each other with increasingly strident voices. In fact, upon reflection, they were quite possibly worse than children throwing tantrums.
In another trial, earlier today, conducted, I must add, with more customary decorum, a young Somalian student was charged with religiously aggravated behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress contrary to section 4 of the Public Order Act.
He was said to have stood outside St Peter's church in Wolverhampton, and while a coffin was being loaded in to a hearse for transit to a local crematorium, he chose to rip pages out of a bible, one by one, and set light to them.
He entered a plea of not guilty and during the subsequent trial showed himself to be little more than a puerile spoiled brat, interfering with both the prosecution and his own defence, which was at best tenuous, by shouting quasi Islamic clap-trap. After adequate warning, which he refused to accept, he was detained and transferred to the cells and his trial continued sans defendant.
Ultimately, we found him guilty, and having heard the victim personal statement of the daughter of the deceased, chose to remand him in custody to the Crown Court for sentencing where I estimate he will receive a two year prison sentence.
Then, at the end of the day's business, as the Bench rose to retire, the entire Court, including my colleagues, gave a spirited rendition of Happy Birthday