Terence Blacker: The case of the Mallett and old Hairy's beard

Your honour, may I ask the court to tell the defendant not to be a mouthy little toe-rag?
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The Independent Online

Some strange things have been happening in the law courts recently, and it seems that they are about to get stranger. It is proposed that, in about a year's time, the first children's court will go into session. A former magistrate's court in Hull is being converted (high chairs in the dock, anti-chewing-gum bars under the ledges, etc) for the purpose.

Secondary school pupils will be trained as judges, prosecutors and jurors, and will try younger children on such charges as bullying, truancy and bad behaviour. The punishments at their disposal will range from community service, to extra homework or sending the guilty on anger management courses, where they will be treated by sixth-formers brought up to speed on counselling skills.

Could it work? The transcript of a recent pilot scheme, kept confidential until now, suggests that a court run for and by schoolchildren might run into problems.

Prosecutor: You are Oliver Mallett - also known as Olly, Oily, Smasher, Psycho, Nutter, Vinnie and The Mallett?

Defendant: Ooooh, you think you're sooooo great, don't you? Just because you're in the Lower Sixth and are famous for being a creepy little teacher's pet and now you've got your own sad little court.

Prosecutor: Your honour, may I ask the court to tell the defendant not to be a mouthy little toe-rag unless he wants to get himself a thick lip?

Judge: Whatever.

Prosecutor: I would like to take you back to the events of last term. Year Seven had just completed a mathematics lesson, had it not?

Defendant: What's mathematics when it's at home?

Prosecutor: Number work.

Defendant: Why don't you speak English, then?

Prosecutor: Apologies, I had forgotten that you're the school thicko. I shall try to make things simple enough even for a duh-brain like you to understand. During break-time, something happened, didn't it?

Defendant: Dunno. I was playing football with Tad Spitteler.

Prosecutor: Jimmy "The Tadpole" Spitteler?

Defendant: Yeah.

Prosecutor: Are you asking the court to believe that you are friends with Year Seven's most irritating little geek?

Defendant: We're not friends. I said I was playing football with him. He was the ball.

Prosecutor: After the game, you went back to your classroom.

Defendant: By the way, I know what your sister does.

Prosecutor: There you found the geography teacher, Hairy Morris, asleep at his desk.

Defendant: In fact, everyone in Year Seven knows what your sister does. Most of the blokes in my class have -

Prosecutor: Your honour, could you please ask the little turd in the dock to keep my sister's name out of this case?

Judge: Anyone on the jury got a computer game?

Juror: I've got The Simpsons: Hit and Run, your honour.

Judge: Cool. Hand it over then.

Prosecutor: If I may continue. You were in the classroom. You used drawing-pins to pin Hairy's beard to the edge of the desk.

Defendant: Yeah, just seeing old Hairy when he awoke in front of class, sat up and - aaagghhh! That was the best laugh we've had in class since we locked Pussy Willow in the stationery cupboard. You've got to have a bit of fun at school, haven't you?

Prosecutor: Your honour, it would be really great if you could get this bullet-brained yob to show some manners to the court. Er, your honour ... hullo?

Judge: Shutupshutupshutup, I'm on Level Three.

Defendant: Ugh, you've farted.

Prosecutor: What are you talking about, you spamhead?

Defendant: That is so gross. Your honour, can I move to the back on account of I can't breathe here?

Prosecutor: You little -

Defendant: No, hang on, I got that wrong. It's actually his breath that's stinking the place out. Your honour, can the case be dismissed on the grounds that the prosecuting counsel is a laser-breathed tosser?

Judge: I'm bored. What's on telly?

Miles Kington is away.

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