Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Monday, 31 March 2014


Recent retiring room discussions reminded me of an interesting case on which I sat as a fairly new magistrate.  A young  woman faced a charge of "using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour ". She was not represented.

In the street she had been very drunk and the medic on the ambulance which had been called by a bystander could not persuade her to go to hospital so he called police and with their knowledge left to attend another emergency call. On their arrival her situation seemed precarious....she was in and out of consciousness and they recalled the ambulance. Before its arrival for a second time she appeared to be more lucid and began swearing and verbally abusing the officers who arrested her, took her to the station where she was charged. In her own defence she agreed she was so drunk she remembered nothing at all of the incident. She continued her denial under cross examination.

Discussing whether or not the CPS had proved the charge we decided that her intoxication went beyond an aggravating factor and that if we accepted her version she was without awareness, control or intent. However our legal adviser on hearing our intended conclusion and referring to the appropriate sections told us that if intoxication is self administered awareness of which the defendant had none must be considered as if not intoxicated and therefore she was guilty.

I cannot recollect having sat on a similar case since.

1 comment:

  1. I may be misunderstanding your import, but sadly we have cases like that on a fairly regular basis.
    I have never heard any of our local bunch of defence solicitors support that as a valid reason for not guilty though. Sometimes a sense of longing will creep into their voices as they hope we will mitigate the sentence for the lack of memory - most know they won't get anywhere!