Gorbals talk is a trial to the judge from the Garrick

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The Independent Online
THERE'S NOT much that can flummox lawyers at the Old Bailey but a murder trial is bogged down because of difficulties fathoming the accent of one of the Glaswegian defendants.

Events in Court No 7 at London's Central Criminal Court were proceeding smoothly until Stephen "Tosh" McCuish, 31, sacked his barrister and conducted his own defence. The case has been plagued by so much patois that the Recorder of London, Judge Michael Hyam, has been repeatedly asked by counsel to explain Gorbals slang. In scenes more akin to scenes of Rab C Nesbit, Mr McCuish has had to translate his line of questioning after Judge Hyam, more used to the rarefied chatter of the Garrick and the MCC, said: "I must confess I am having some difficulty keeping my own notes of evidence." The court has had to cope with "Spallomine" - he is a friend; "Heez peein himsel" - he was laughing heartily and "Swiboggin, man" - the place smells awful, your Lordship." Other snippets included "Shoorabootat?" - Are you certain?; "Weesattastares" - we were on the staircase; "Crossfray" - across from, and "Whitshedaen?" - what's he doing?

Yesterday the trial limped on in much the same vein, compounded when Mr McCuish called an alcoholic childhood friend, William "Billy" Little, to give character references. At one point he asked Little: "Have you ever known me to drink Tennent's?" "Nah, you only drink McEwan's, Tosh."

Mr McCuish, of Dover, Kent, is accused of conspiracy to rob and the murder of Alan Bearder, a former Wolverhampton netball referee.

His co-accused are his girlfriend, Emma Haycock, 18, Cathal Hughes, 23, and his girlfriend, Charlene Newman, 18. All deny the charges.

Little of Walworth, south- East London, has already admitted the murder and robbery of Mr Bearder.

Officials said the trial was "hopefully" on course to finish on 6 July. One said: "It's much the same when we have people with deep Irish accents or a strong Cockney accent. The judge will get them to slow down and repeat themselves. If there are any problems then supplementary questions are usually asked. Normally, it can be quite daunting being at the Old Bailey, so people speak much quicker than normal, because they are nervous, which is the main problem."

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