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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Carlisle judge criticises police over drug deal case

A judge has criticised the police for taking too long to investigate the case of a west Cumbrian woman suspected of drug dealing.

And he has threatened to throw the case out if all the evidence has not been completed by next Friday.

The woman – who can’t yet be named for legal reasons – was due to appear at Carlisle Crown Court on Thursday to enter a plea to a charge of possessing cannabis with intent to supply it.

But the case had to be adjourned after Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Gerard Rogerson said he thought “a number of enquiries I would have expected to have been done have in fact not been done”.

As a result, he said, he believed the woman – who was arrested as long ago as August 7 – has been charged with offences less serious than she could have been.

Judge Peter Davies demanded that the police officer involved in the investigation should explain to him in person what had been going on.

And yesterday Detective Constable Sharon McDermott was in court to assure him that all necessary enquiries would be made if she were allowed another week.

The judge told her the investigation should have been “in good order” when the case was first listed on Thursday, and the fact that it wasn’t threatened to throw the court timetables into chaos.

“We have to have a timetable – if we don’t do that the whole system collapses,” he said.

The judge said “limited resources” could not be used as an excuse to taking so long to prepare cases.

“I can’t deal with it on that basis. If I allow it to happen with this case I will have to allow it for every other case too,” he said.

“I know there is a lot of work and there is insufficient manning and insufficient resources, but we all have that. Everybody has it – sometimes it is pressure and sometimes it is stress.”

The judge said that if the investigation was not complete when the woman appears before him again next Friday, he would simply find her not guilty.

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