Salisbury Magistrates’ Court was a happy venue for my client who was due to face trial having picked up a speeding ticket for allegedly doing 101 mph in his BMW on the A303. The case had been set down for trial over two months previously and everything required to be done by the defence had been done. The same could not be said of the CPS!
You might think that when setting a trial date the CPS would ensure that their only police officer witness was not on holiday on the day of the trial: in this case you’d be wrong! Despite various letters to the court and prosecution the first we heard from the CPS was a letter – 7 working days before the trial – asking if we would mind if it were adjourned! We refused that particular invitation.
The young barrister (not a CPS employee) who was saddled with the trial hearing on the day had not even been given a file. When the Chairwoman of the court asked him when the officer was available he was forced to admit that he hadn’t even been given that information! None of this was his fault but none of it impressed the Magistrate’s: it wouldn’t have impressed anybody!
Unsurprisingly the CPS application was refused and the barrister was forced to offer no evidence against my client, who left the court with his reputation and driving licence intact – and no disqualification. In addition, and at my request, he should get most of his costs back! This outcome did not surprise me as Magistrates are becoming increasingly reluctant to allow such adjournments.
I will not describe the steps I took over many months to prepare for any possible slip by the prosecution. However, the important point to remember is that a barrister or solicitor who specialises in speeding and other motoring work will have positioned himself to take advantage of mistakes made by the CPS. This is not exactly finding a “loophole” but simply doing a proper job. As I frequently say to clients “a victory is a victory”. Providing one has been completely open with the court and prosecution – and played by the rules – then no lawyer can be criticised for doing everything within his power to achieve an acquittal. Every client has a right to expect nothing less!