Armed with the knowledge that the slightest misstep could potentially land us ‘in contempt of court’ ie, liable to pay a fine/go to prison… I set off to the Old Bailey Court on Monday with several people from my MA Journalism class.
The Central Criminal Court in England and Wales, the Old Bailey deals with major criminal cases, and is one of the most famous in the world.
To say I fell in love would be an understatement.
After being thoroughly searched, phones, cameras, electronic devices removed, we mounted the stairs to witness what can only be described as a moment in history.
The first order of the day was sitting in on the first day of the resurrected trial of the Stephen Lawrence case. The prosecutors and judge were discussing jury selection that would be taking place later that day. Family members of the murdered 18 year old were sitting in the public gallery (right in front of me!!) The two defendants Gary Dobson and David Norris were sat at the back of the courtroom, behind a glass shield.
The second order of the day was to sit in on the a murder trial. Entering the room to sounds of screaming and ‘Please, please stop,’ my (excited) reaction to this seemed to worry my colleagues who looked positively horrified.
Mouth open in excitement and awe I sat in the public gallery, the witness stand (out of view) below me, where someone was giving testimony to what had happened on the night a man had been tortured with a red hot poker, and murdered.
Surprised at the lack of media attention on the case which, quite frankly, was fascinating, Guy Toyn, a long standing court reporter said that people didn’t really care about blood and gore anymore. “What people want to read about what is strange.”
“Its addictive” he warned, going on to explain how in doing such a job you see the raw inhumanity. “Nothing will top the drama of a murder verdict where someone can either walk out of the door in ten minutes, or spend a lifetime in prison.”
He’s certainly right about one thing; I want more.