An amusing tale and other contributions from members of our criminal team

April 8, 2020

In these gloomy, uncertain times Sean Smith shares an amusing tale, ‘What would you do for a fiver?’, Adrian Farrow offers his feedback on virtual hearings in the Crown Court and Richard Littler QC provides entertainment, music and humour to brighten the days!

What would you do for a fiver? 

My sympathies really do go out at this time to those on the front line, Solicitors who are having to or have had to attend police stations without regard to COVID-19. I have heard many tales that the suggested treatments when attending police stations are being breached.

In times gone by I recollect attending a police station identification parade. This was back in the day when volunteers would attend at the Bridewell, ordinarily with a can of special brew in hand, ready to volunteer to be part of the identification parade.

Back then volunteers were paid £10 simply for turning up and for being selected as part of the initial group.  They were then paid a further £5 if they were one of the “chosen few” and had to attend the parade in the manner of the film “The Usual Suspects”!

One occasion stands out for me!

My client had been advised that he was suspected of committing a s18 against the witness in a park. Quite unusually he was denying matters and putting the prosecution to proof.  He duly attended the ID parade and stood at space 3.

The witness was adamant and insistent that his attacker had attended and was present at number 7.

The Police regarded this simply as a negative ID.  However, the witness was so adamant that his attacker was stood at number 7 that the police became suspicious and felt they ought to at least carry out a preliminary enquiry against the ‘volunteer’ that had attended.

Months later the volunteer who stood at number 7 stood trial for a s18!

What I couldn’t understand was that this volunteer (who became my client) knew the purpose for the witness identification procedure, knew the offence was to do with a specific attack on a specific date in a specific park and must have known that he was responsible!

He was ultimately convicted.

What I can never understand is that instead of running to the hills and making excuses to leave, he stayed as part of the procedure in order to try to earn that further £5 which inevitably cost him, from memory, about seven or eight years of his life!

Sean Smith is a member of the criminal department at Exchange Chambers. As a former managing partner of a leading criminal law firm in Yorkshire, Sean has amassed significant experience in high level criminal cases. 

Feedback on virtual hearings 

We imagine that most barristers will by now have had some experience of the virtual hearings in the Crown Court and may have been encouraged to provide feedback on how it went. Well, here is Exchange Chambers’ Adrian Farrow’s:

I’ll never go to court again!

Richard Littler QC and Adrian Farrow provide entertainment, music and humour with their spoof, I’ll never go to court again!: