In late December, Northamptonshire Magistrates Court arranged an additional holding court to “mop up” any outstanding cases due to the spike in crime and public disorder over the festive season. Of particular interest was a repeat offender, an elderly man, dressed in red and sporting a disguise of a long white beard; his offence that of burgling houses throughout the county and rather bizarrely, taking carrots, mince pies and sherry. The man, named locally as Father Christmas or Santa Claus, was arrested in the late hours of 25 December, investigated and charged with three offences. The CPS, having reviewed the evidence gathered by Northamptonshire Constabulary, decided to charge him with multiple burglaries, animal cruelty to nine reindeers by not giving them sufficient rest or food during what can only be described as an exhausting ordeal, and dangerous parking of his sleigh on the roofs of domestic houses.
He was presented before Northampton Magistrates Court where they heard how Father Christmas had previous history of similar activities over a number of years. The bench heard from Mr Gotchya, the prosecutor, of the various methods of entry to the homes and the extent of the thefts. Several submissions of CCTV evidence of poor parking on rooftops showed the extreme risks Father Christmas was prepared to take in order to undertake his catalogue of crimes. The veterinary technical expert, Mr Paul Lee-Trotter, further stated that the poor treatment to the animals resulted in one reindeer having developed a prominent red nose. Defending, Miss Happ, presented mitigating evidence, that of him leaving behind at each property, a variety of packages, as means of exchange for the carrots, mince pies and sherry. She also outlined his long held belief that his actions were always well received, particularly by children.
The bench, giving full deliberation to all the evidence put before them, found the accused guilty of all charges. Sentencing, they gave Father Christmas a curfew to his home in Lapland and barred him from keeping reindeers for a period of 364 days from the date of the offence. Before dismissing him from the court he was reminded that this sentence would run until 24 December 2019.
Birmingham MA: swearing in of directly recruited magistrates to the Birmingham and Solihull Family Panel
On 21 January, 19 new family magistrates were sworn in as members of the Birmingham and Solihull Bench. This was followed by a reception sponsored by the Magistrates Association Birmingham MA.
The ceremony took place in one of the heritage courts of the Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham and it was attended by the Lord Mayors of Birmingham and Solihull, The High Sheriff of the West Midlands, the Vice Lord Lieutenant, and HHJ Sybil Thomas, who addressed the new magistrates.
After the ceremony there was a reception in the Law Library, the buffet being provided by Birmingham Branch MA, as the branch was keen to support this important day for new colleagues, their friends and families.
The Birmingham MA Chair made a presentation at each of the two inductions session and handed out membership packs. As a result, of the newly sworn in magistrates who will begin sitting in April after training is complete, over half have joined the MA to date.
Birmingham MA plans to hold a welcome event for the new magistrates later in the spring.
Mid and South Glamorgan MA has a second visit to the Police Heritage Centre in Bridgend organised for 20 March at 11 am. Based in the police headquarters building, this newly opened facility covers the history of policing and crime in South Glamorgan. Last month, a group of 15 magistrates completed the first organised tour and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, including the ‘dressing up’ box - when some magistrates could not resist putting on a uniform! On display are items of punishment and historical interest.
The trip is organised by Mid and South Glamorgan MA, Chair, John Viney, who led the first visit.
John says ‘my first trip here about twelve years ago was when I brought twelve magistrates from the then Bridgend court, so I always intended to return with other groups. Now I am in Cardiff, it is a great opportunity for new and old JPs to see the history of law enforcement over the years.’
Up to 30 people can visit at any one time, and priority is being given to MA members (although non-members will be welcome as well on this occasion). Partners are also welcome.
There is a nearby restaurant if visitors would like coffee/meals after the event.
If you would like to book a place, please contact John Viney.
At the last Mid and South Glamorgan MA executive meeting in 2018, the Chair, Olive Francis, took the opportunity to present Margaret Salisbury with the MA Retired Member of the Year 2018 award, as well as some flowers from the branch. Olive, as Branch Chair, had accepted the award on Margaret’s behalf at the MA national AGM in Manchester in October 2018.
Olive was delighted to have the opportunity to hand over Margaret’s much deserved award during the meeting, and to recognise Margaret efforts tirelessly organising and leading the branch’s MIC work.
Olive then handed over the reins of Chair to John Viney. Olive has worked very hard for the MA, at national and branch level, over the last few years. Thankfully staying on as an executive member, she will continue to have a positive influence on all things MA in South Wales.
Sadly, however, it was the last meeting for the Branch Secretary, Steve Miller. Steve has been 'part of the furniture' at Mid and South Glamorgan MA for many years, and as a legal adviser was a trusted source for all things legal and MA related. He will be missed by all of the Committee, and a hard act to follow. But follow, Kerrie Burge shall! Kerrie was 'head hunted' by Steve as a worthy replacement and she too is a legal adviser with years of experience. The executive is confident that it will be a joy to work alongside her as she keeps them on "the straight and narrow" road.
Pictured above: Kerrie Burge and Steve Miller seated at the Branch meeting.
Mid and South Glamorgan MA, in partnership with HMCTS, is holding a Domestic Violence conference on 28 March, at the Orbit Business Centre, Merthyr Tydfil, Business Park, CF48 1DL.
The conference will run from 9.30am to 4.00pm and include victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, practitioners in the field, police and government speakers.
There is a £5 cover charge for the event which includes teas and coffees, lunch and conference papers. Transport costs can be claimed from HMCTS.
There are only 90 spaces so please book early as the event is open to both South and West Glamorgan Magistrates.
Cheques can be made payable to Mid and South Glamorgan Magistrates Association or Bank Transfer to Sort Code 20 68 76 Account No: 00302996. Please reference conference and your name.
For more information, please contact John Viney.
South and South East London MA: AGM and training on military veterans in the criminal justice system
South and South East London MA is holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday 23 February, at Bromley Court House. As usual, the branch will be running a training event on the same day and.
This year’s training will focus on ex-serving military personnel in the criminal justice system. With approximately 2,820 veterans in prison, often for violent offences, this training will highlight the particular difficulties faced by veterans and give practical guidance on how to deal with specific issues in court.
The AGM will start at 10.00 am, with the training session starting at 11.00 am.
If you would like to attend, please contact Sarah McLaughlin.
Central and North London MA will be holding a veterans mental health training event on 6 February. The event will take place at St Pancras Hospital and run from 6-8pm,
The event will focus on ex-serving military personnel in the criminal justice system. It will highlight the particular difficulties faced by veterans and give practical guidance on how to deal with specific issues in court, such as:
• Offending behaviours of veterans;
• Military culture and jargon;
• Veteran mental health and behavioural issues - common presentations;
• De-escalation techniques and management of common mental health problems;
• Drug and alcohol use;
• Problems in transition into civilian life; and
• Structure of services for veterans (NHS and third sector) - regional and national.
Please contact Luke Rigg to confirm your attendance.
New Year's Honours for MA members
The New Year Honours list acknowledges the achievements and service of exceptional people across the United Kingdom and we are proud to announce that the following members were recognized with MBEs in this year's Honours, awarded by our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen.
William Harmsworth MBE JP
Surrey MA – for services to the magistracy and the community in Newdigate, Surrey.
Jeanne Kenyon MBE JP
Lancashire MA – for services to the administration of justice.
Steven Vear MBE JP
Wessex MA and Bench Chair for North Hampshire – for voluntary service in Hampshire.
We would like to extend our warmest congratulations to those members whose hard work and dedication to the magistracy, justice and the wider community has been recognised in this way.
Jayne Clemence MBE JP recently attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE from Prince Charles for services to the magistracy and community.
Jayne has been a member of the Magistrate’s Association since being appointed in 1995. She is a member of the North and East Devon MA.
Jayne’s roles as a magistrate have included three years as Chair of the Bench for North and East Devon, and many other committee responsibilities over time. Her life as a Magistrate began in London, including time in the Adult, Family and Youth Courts, before transferring to Devon.
‘The award was a truly humbling experience and an honour to have the Magistracy recognised in this way,’ says Jayne.
Please join us as we congratulate Jayne on her well-deserved award!
1st Prize – Julie Nuttall (Lincolnshire)
2nd Prize – Francesca Nowne (East Sussex)
3rd Prize – Helen Bennett (Mid & South Glamorgan)
23 February - Saturday Morning Development Session
Topic to be confirmed – further details will be advised shortly
23 March - Saturday Morning Development Session
Cyber Crime - further details will be advised shortly
Early – Annual General Meeting of the Lincolnshire Branch of the MA
Details will be confirmed nearer the time.
For more information, please contact Mary Chamberlain.
Northamptonshire MA will be holding their AGM on 23 March at Northamptonshire County Cricket Ground along with the Northamptonshire Bench meeting.
The branch is currently pulling together a team of interesting speakers, and more information on these will be available shortly.
For further information contact Gerald Lovell.