‘This is not fair’ says officer as defendant couldn’t hear his own court hearing, but judge continues – to save him the journey from Lewisham to Bromley

A police officer interrupted a video linked court hearing because the sound quality was so bad it wasn’t fair on the defendant.

James White, 18, was video linked to Bromley Magistrates’ Court from Lewisham police station where he was in custody on 28 May.

While his solicitor and the prosecution discussed the facts of White’s case a police officer interrupted, saying the station could not hear and that it was ‘not fair’ to continue the hearing.

But the breach of bail hearing continued with the poor sound in order to save White the journey from the police station to the court that afternoon.

The court later decided to transport the remaining three custody prisoners at Lewisham to the court rather than continue by video link.

Court staff commented that the quality of the video link is usually good and that today’s issue was unusual.

White was arrested yesterday for breaching his stringent bail conditions, which require him to be with an adult from his family whenever he leaves his home where he lives with his grandmother.

White’s solicitor said his grandmother had asked him to go to the shop to buy bread and milk because she is shielding due to an underlying condition.

Rachel Gretton, defending, said: ‘It’s a particularly difficult situation for him living with only his grandmother, on this occasion his relative wasn’t able to come and do the shopping.

‘It is a serious matter, one charge for robbery, his sentencing hearing is on the 13th of June 2020 and he is waiting for a psychological report.

‘If he’s taken into custody none of this could happen.

White and a co-defendant filmed a victim while threatening them with a knife, the court heard.

‘They made him feel fearful for his life, the victim was then assaulted with a metal pole, received minor bruising however was showing willingness to do whatever it took to have what he wanted,’ said prosecutor Nahiedh Khan.

The video linked showed a downwards view of White from where he was sitting in Lewisham police station.

‘The crown would be asking for remand into custody, bearing in mind what the defence says it’s for the court to decide,’ Ms Khan concluded.

Magistrate Chair Jayne Qureshi addressed the defendant on screen: ‘Mr White did you hear what’s being said?’

‘No ma’am,’ he replied.

‘No, then he needs to be brought to court, we can’t have a bail application without hearing what’s being said, can we hear what the defence has to say?’

‘He did spend a whole month in custody at Highdown, on the 8th of April he was bailed with stringent conditions, none breached to date as far as I’m aware,’ said Ms Gretton.

‘His grandmother confirmed that she actually asked him to go, being aware of bail, because no one else was able to go out for bread and milk.

‘She should be asking someone else rather than asking her grandson to do these errands.’

At this point a female police officer at Lewisham interrupted. In a distorted voice she could be heard saying: ‘This is not fair, it’s too difficult to hear’

‘It’s in his interest to continue for a little bit more,’ said Ms Qureshi, who then spoke to White and the police officer on the list caller’s mobile phone.

She explained: ‘What we’re trying to do is see whether or not the prosecution and defence can agree that you get bail.

‘If there’s an agreement that you do get bail that will mean that you won’t need to be brought to court, if custody then you will need to be brought to court.

The magistrates’ accepted Ms Gretton’s explanation that White had been put in a ‘very difficult position’ because no one else was at the address. 

White, 18, was granted bail on the same conditions: not to leave his grandmother’s address without an adult from his extended family, not to contact the witness and to abide by a GPS tagged curfew between 8pm and 5am.

He awaits sentencing for the robbery at Croydon Crown Court following a pre-sentence report.

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