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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


It’s good to see an ancient stereotype confirmed, this time the one about British judges being less than completely alert and on the ball on all occasions.

One of the men convicted of plotting to snatch £200 million worth of diamonds from the Millennium Dome has lodged grounds of appeal alleging that the judge at his Old Bailey trial fell asleep more than once during the hearing.

Lawyers for Raymond Betson are trying to trace two witnesses who were present at the trial and may be able to give evidence about when Judge Michael Coombe dozed off.

Betson’s claim – part of his challenge to his conviction of conspiracy to rob – was disclosed in the Court of Appeal today when his case was delayed for at least seven weeks.

Betson’s counsel, Edmund Romilly, said: “Statements from two people present at the trial show that the judge fell asleep on a number of occasions. We have been making efforts to contact these people, so far without success.”

All of which confirms that old Peter Cook sketch from Beyond The Fringe about how, when you get old and doddery and useless, you had to stop doing mining, but that this didn’t apply at all if you did judging.

I don’t know what else this proves. Probably that most court cases, even about dramatic events such as this attempted Dome robbery – which was like something in a Peter Sellers movie – are stupefyingly boring.

2 comments to Mr Justice ZZZZZZZZ

  • RAB

    Well yes, as someone who used to be a Crown Court Clerk and sat with a lot of these clowns, I would have to say you’re right.Judges tend to be useless barrasters who couldn’t make a living at the bar so had to find something else to do.Usually they have been to the “right” school and get appointed out of sympathy, because if they were actually any good at law they would’nt contemplate the pay cut.Besides they are usually so pissed after lunch that anything that happens then is lost in the ether.I don’t know why people keep on about judges and sentencing, as if being “professionals” sic. they know what they’re talking about, when in my experience they know less about the real world than your average politician.

  • “they know less about the real world than your average politician.”

    This is possible?