TERENCE EWING has been accompanying Maurice’s case for a while. He is an ace in case law and generally the sharpest McKenzie Friend I’ve come across – assisting individuals as well as advocating the public interest.
COURT REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS ON 29/09/14 AT BRISTOL CROWN COURT
I arrived at Bristol Crown Court at around 9.15 am, and was told that Mr. Kirk was being brought from Swansea but that they didn’t have a time of arrival. The custody officer informed me that they may have more information later.
I waited outside and met another campaigner who had a similar tale to Mr. Kirk’s, complaining of torture and persecution by the Bristol judges and Somerset and Avon Police.
About 10 to 10, an Geo Amery Van arrived opposite but didn’t go into the court building. I don’t know if Mr. Kirk was inside it. I then met Mrs. Janet Kirk, and we went up to court 6 with Judge Longman.
There was a barrister, a Mr. Tucker, representing the CPS who was local, and I think he had appeared before in Mr. Kirk’s case. The court clerk informed all present that Mr. Kirk was refusing to get out of the van, as the custody staff wouldn’t allow the wheelchair that he had been brought to the court in to be used to transport him from the cells to the court room, as it belonged to Swansea Prison.
More enquiries were being madeby phone to the custody suite, and the court clerk wanted to know if Mr. Kirk was prepared to walk into the court as there were some steps into it.
She had been informed that the custody staff weren’t prepared to bring Mr. Kirk into court room with a wheel chair, as they had insufficient staff available. The court clerk stated that the Judge had been informed of the position, and was fully aware of all of the circumstances.
The Judge, His Honour Judge Longman, then came into court at around 10.15 am, and was informed by the court clerk that Mr. Kirk was refusing to leave the transport van without the use of a wheelchair and come into the court room without it.
The Judge then delivered a short judgment and stated that in his view, Maurice needed a wheelchair to come into the court room and was reluctant to come without one. The court clerk also informed the Judge that Mr. Kirk had stated to the custody officers that he wished to withdraw his appeal.
The Judge stated that he hadn’t seen any notice of abandonment of his appeal in the court’s correspondence, as Mr. Kirk had written a number of letters to the court. He also stated that Mr. Kirk had also written to the court enquiring what would be the possible costs award if he withdrew his appeal at this stage.
Mr Tucker informed the Judge that as the matter was being dealt with by Cardiff CPS, he wasn’t in a position to clarify the costs position, but stated that there had been about four previous hearings and that the costs didn’t appear to be large so far, and were probably around £200 for each hearing.
The Judge also commented that any costs incurred at the contested hearing currently listed for 19 November 2014, was unlikely to be recouped in any event, due to Mr. Kirk’s present circumstances. The Judge then suggested that the CPS write to Mr. Kirk, setting out the costs already incurred and what the full costs position was.
The Judge stated that Crown Court powers vary, and that there was power to withdraw an appeal in writing, but also to accept an oral withdrawal from an appellant who was before the court.
Mr Tucker then invited the Judge to accept Mr. Kirk’s wish to withdraw his appeal, but the Judge stated that it would have to be in writing without Mr. Kirk being before the court itself to make the application directly.
The Judge then stated that he perfectly understood why Mr. Kirk had been reluctant to come into court without the wheelchair, as he had actually been brought in a wheelchair from Swansea prison.
He stated that he was “completely baffled”, and had every sympathy with Mr. Kirk’s predicament and his conduct was understandable, given all of the circumstances.
The Judge then made references to the correspondence that had been received by the court, and referred to two recent letters dated 4 and 10 September 2014, and requested that they both be copied and supplied to Mr. Tucker and the CPS.
The Judge asked Mr. Tucker to ensure that the letters were passed on to both the CPS and Mr. Smyth of counsel, who would be prosecuting the case at the appeal hearing.
The Judge also stated that he was troubled regarding a hearing that had been previously held on 20 August 2014 when Mr. Kirk hadn’t been present, when the court had been informed that one prosecution witness, a security guard was unable to attend the appeal hearing on the date as set, as he would be on holiday.
The Judge raised the issue of whether the witness was necessary, but this wasn’t finally determined, and the security guard was named as Mr. Thompson.
The Judge also referred to the fact that Mr Kirk had also written to the court, stating that the hearing had been conducted “in secret” as he hadn’t been produced, and therefore had been unable to be heard and make any representations regarding the necessity of the presence of Mr. Thompson at the appeal. The Judge also stated that he considered that had been a “good question”.
The Judge then directed that the CPS write to Mr. Kirk regarding the costs issues, and that this should be done by 4.00 pm this Friday. The court then adjourned at 10.50.