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Home / Sporting Events / Fishing / Trials re-starting at Cardiff Crown Court today

Trials re-starting at Cardiff Crown Court today

Jury trials had been on hold during the crisis – with preliminary, plea and sentencing hearings being held virtually.

But last week, the Lord Chief Justice announced they would restart from May 18 at a small number of Crown Courts under strict social-distancing guidelines.

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Fresh trials have been listed at Cardiff, the Old Bailey, Manchester Minshull Street and Bristol Crown Court as a first phase to get the criminal justice system back on track.

Many cases involving defendants from Gwent are heard at Cardiff.

They include a murder trial involving a 15-year-old defendant and a death by careless driving case dating back to 2017.

Special arrangements will be put in place at the courts to maintain safety, in line with Public Health Wales and Public Health England guidelines.

To ensure social distancing, trials are expected to be split between up to three courtrooms.

Jurors, senior barristers and the judge will occupy the main courtroom, with an overflow court for the press, public, junior barristers and police, and a third court for jury retirement.

Long and complex trials have already been put off in favour of shorter cases of up to two weeks.

The move to restart jury trials comes amid growing concern over the backlog of cases and financial worries of criminal barristers.

A working group chaired by Mr Justice Edis and reporting to the Lord Chief Justice has identified seven courts for new trials in the coming months.

They are: Cardiff, Old Bailey, Bristol, Manchester Minshull Street, Reading, Warwick, and Winchester.

Caroline Goodwin QC, chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “This is only the start of the beginning of a resumption of jury trials.

“We are grateful to HMCTS for the detailed planning involved down to where people can stand and the cleaning of the whole court building area, as their responsibility for the safety is paramount for all court users.

“On Monday new trials may begin but a commencement to address the court backlog remains a long way off.”

She added: “Resuming jury trials will at least begin to address the current case load coming through the system since the start of the year but won’t yet even start to address case backlog which the Lord Chief Justice estimated this week had grown to around 40,000 by the end of March when trials were suspended, up from the over 37,000 backlog the MOJ recorded at the end of 2019.”

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