By 2018 Nathaniel Hone
Every year, the Magistracy organise Mock trials in the County as a heat in a National Competition. Schools around the country compete and is aimed at 12-14 year olds to play all the roles in a magistrates court - Defendant, Prosecuting Barrister, Defence Barrister, Magistrates (only the Chair of the Bench is taken by a real live magistrate to help guide the process), Clerk to the Court, Court Usher.
Each school take part in two trials, once as defence and once as prosecutor. The case is the same for all the trails. In our case it was R v Young. The indictment against the luckless fictitious Mr Young was as follows "On 1st February 2019, Alex Young stole a mobile phone whilst driving a moped in Summerton, being theft from a person contrary to section 1 of the Theft Act 1968." Statements from witnesses were given beforehand and some were called to give evidence.
Us observers thought that the evidence was pretty weak and the magistrates, having withdrawn to consider the evidence, came back and had come to the same conclusion in every version of the trial.
Young people from Aylestone, Wigmore, Bishop's, Whitecross, Fairfield and St. Mary's Schools took part and afterwards there was an awards ceremony for the best overall school and also the best performer of each individual role. I was particularly impressed by the luckless Defendants.
This is a great institution that teaches the young how the court system works and, hopefully, to avoid playing the role of Defendant for real.