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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Prisoners due for trial at Carlisle court left behind at jail

One of Cumbria’s top judges has slammed senior officers at Durham Prison for the “inefficiency” which led to a day of chaos at Carlisle Crown Court.

Four men being held on remand at the north-east jail were due at the city’s court yesterday - two to be sentenced and two to go on trial.

But when the prison bus arrived only one of them was on board. Prison staff had simply forgotten to put the others on it. As a result judges, court staff, barristers and witnesses were left hanging around for hours with nothing to do.

Judge Peter Hughes QC, who was due to sentence two of the missing men and possibly preside over the trial of one of the others, complained to the prison but was told that at that late stage the men could not be got to Carlisle before 3pm – five hours after they should have arrived.

In the event the prisoners arrived in the early afternoon, meaning their cases could eventually go ahead.

But the judge said he was considering calling one of the senior prison governors to attend court to explain what had gone on.

“And I’m not sure I have the powers, but if I have I would be minded to order Durham Prison to pay the wasted costs of the court day,” he said.

“I am simply not prepared to tolerate the sort of inefficiency we have had to endure today.”

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