COURT HEARINGS for disabled Litigant in Person? Why should we bother? We’re just doing our job… to the dot…

Maurice’s sister writes: I have just received a call from Maurice from SWANSEA Jail!

Although he was not supposed to travel with a wheelchair, it was placed aboard the transport.

Once at Bristol Crown Court, the custody staff told him he was not allowed to use the Swansea chair. He sat in the transport ‘in the yard’. They refused to wheel him up the front ramps for other visitors to the court house and stated that the court house did not have its own chair nor a system of getting prisoners with mobility problems into court!

This means he was never presented to the Court in front of HHJ Longman which, as he had no legal representation is a terrible indictment of British Justice.

He has yet to hear the outcome of the court proceedings. If they were delayed, it is a disgraceful waste of taxpayers money; if the hearing went ahead without the defendant nor a representative in court, it was a gross injustice.

To Disability Rights UK she writes:

My brother, Maurice Kirk, is a prisoner at HMP Swansea and suffers from chronic ankle pain in both limbs due to accidents and repairs. Currently he also has an intestinal condition which has caused him to loose over 20 kilos in weight since mid-July14. This condition is awaiting some medical investigation after 5 months of increasing pain. This necessitates him needing the use of a wheelchair for any distance.

Today I am ashamed to report that the Custody Staff of GeoAmy were assigned to transport him from HMP Swansea to Bristol Crown Court to hear an appeal. He travelled in the wheelchair to the transport where he manoeuvred himself from the chair to the van ‘cell’, 27″x38″x7’6″. He asked for the wheelchair to come with him and was told ‘that chair belongs to Swansea Prison, its staying here’. Fortunately another member of staff later folded it up and put it in the transport with him.

On arrival at Bristol Crown Court in Small St. the guard told him that he would have to take himself (in handcuffs) to the court as there was no way they could push him there as the court house did not have a wheelchair they could use and they would not let him use the wheelchair that had travelled with him. GeoAmy then told the Court and the judge that Mr Kirk was unable to get to the courtroom as he had not requested a chair beforehand. As the Prison had not informed him that he was due to travel to Bristol Court before that morning it was impossible for him to make this request except at the point of departure.

As I have since established that the Court House has access for prisoners with disabilities within their entry point as well as access for disabled visitors at the front door it is clearer the fault of the Custody Staff not to produce the prisoner.

I understand that the case has been further delayed which, considering it involves the hearing of evidence from GeoAmy not only is prejudicial to my brother but is a shocking waste of public money.

My brother is 69 years old and although giving a bottle of water to drink during the roundtrip of over 3 hours was also unable to access a lavatory at any time. He tells me he was ‘bursting’ by the time he got back to Swansea.

I should also point out that as a Litigant-in-Person he had no legal representative in court.

Celia Jeune


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About Sabine Kurjo McNeill

I'm a mathematician and system analyst formerly at CERN in Geneva and became an event organiser, software designer, independent web publisher and online promoter of Open Justice. My most significant scientific contribution is now a solution to the Prime Number problem:
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