First new trials to start at Crown Courts

The first new trials to start following the coronavirus crisis will include a youth murder and death by careless driving case.

On Monday, four Crown Courts across England and Wales will open their doors to jurors to hear new cases for the first time since March.

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

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

At the Old Bailey, Mohammad Tahir, 45, from Slough, will face a trial before Judge Richard Marks QC on Monday.

Tahir is charged with causing the death by careless driving of Thomas Bailey in October 2017.

Bristol Crown Court will start with the murder trial of a 15-year-old youth.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused over the death of 17-year-old Tyrone Hayman who was stabbed to death on 14 December last year in Bedminster.

Tyrone Hayman death
Tyrone Hayman with his mother Elaine Campbell (Family handout)

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court will begin with a three-day trial of a man accused of possessing ammunition.

A fourth new trial has been listed to start at Cardiff Crown Court.

Special arrangements will be put in place at the courts to maintain safety, in line with Public Health England and Public Health Wales 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 press, public, junior barristers and police, and a third court for jury retirement.

Long and complex trials have already been postponed 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: Old Bailey, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester Minshull Street, Reading, Warwick, and Winchester.

The group had also assessed Derby and Nottingham Crown Courts, but found they were not yet suitable.

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