Why do the wheels of justice grind so slowly in Dungannon?
DELAYS affecting criminal cases at Dungannon Courthouse have been branded as ‘unacceptable’ after it emerged that trial times at the courthouse are among the lenghiest in Northern Ireland.
On average almost four months elapse between offence and sentence being passed in Dungannon Magistrates’ court, the longest time in the Tyrone and Fermanagh court district.
The figures, obtained from the Northern Ireland Court Service, cover from April to June of this year, and show that Downpatrick Court had the longest trial times at 21 weeks on average, while Larne had the speediest at 3 weeks.
The Criminal Justice Inspectorate has said that, on average, legal cases in Northern Ireland take twice as long as those in England or Wales.
DUP peer Maurice Morrow (Pictured) said the victims of crime deserved swifter justice, and questioned why the wheels of justice grind so slowly.
“The delays in these cases are entirely unacceptable and an explanation is required from Courts Service and the PPS”, he said.
“There are simply too many cases which are clogging up the system. The bulk of these are legally aided so I presume the composite fee system applies which means there is a set payment across the entire case, so I would expect it is not solicitors who are causing the hold ups.
“There are also serious issues with backlogs at Forensic Science meaning evidence is not being processed in time. These delays are leaving many cases open to Abuse of Process challenges against the PPS which ultimately means cases could be dismissed, and that is injustice to the victims of crime.
“Last week we learned a case of manslaughter has now been adjourned four times after a plea was indicated, whilst various reports submitted by both defence and prosecution are argued over. Whilst I accept there are serious matters which demand intense scrutiny, I do not understand how with the level of staff employed at the PPS why the majority of cases cannot be moved as expeditiously as possible. It is a matter I will be taking up with the Justice Minister.”
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Weather for Dungannon
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North