Witnesses jailed for late arrival at court

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The Independent Online
TWO MEN who were due to be witnesses for the prosecution at a Crown Court trial were yesterday jailed for six weeks for keeping the court waiting.

Michael Nailor, 34, and Russell Carter, 35, blamed their delay in arriving at Luton Crown Court on two successive days on 'accidents' rather than unwillingness. But Judge Ronald Moss said as a result of their time-wasting he had to abort a trial and order a jury to find a man not guilty of a wounding charge. 'Either an innocent man was kept in custody on remand for months or a guilty man walked free, both situations I find unacceptable. However unworldly or naive you were about the need to get to court on time, I am satisfied that this was a contempt of court and must be punished. If you do not have witnesses you do not have a legal system.'

The case was listed to begin at 10.30am on Monday but Mr Nailor and Mr Carter did not arrive until just before lunch and the trial started in the afternoon. Judge Moss made it clear to them they would be needed the following day at 10.30am.

On Tuesday, they had not appeared by 10.55am and the trial was aborted. It emerged that the men intended to meet in their home town of Milton Keynes, but failed to do so and this delayed them.

Barristers said the men would appeal.