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Judge tells lawyers in probation case ‘this has got to stop’

A JUDGE claimed the probation service was failing to properly prepare cases for court – telling lawyers yesterday: “This has just got to stop.”

Judge Michael Gledhill QC made the comments as he was forced to adjourn the case of a convicted burglar accused of breaching his community order.

In 2019, George Courtney-Jacobs was given the two year order after he admitted burgling a home in Headington. He had tried to clamber through an open window but woke the householder up when he grabbed onto her leg to try and steady himself.

The 23-year-old has denied breaching his order and was due before Oxford Crown Court on Monday for the hearing.

Jonathan Veasey-Pugh, defending, said his client had reportedly been sectioned over the weekend and asked the judge to adjourn the case for further enquiries to be carried out.

Judge Gledhill agreed to the request. But he asked Richard Atkins, appearing for the probation service, why no evidence papers had been uploaded to the court’s digital system.

Mr Atkins said he had not been given permission to access the digital file. The judge replied: “What is the point of you appearing if you have not been given access to the digital file? It’s shocking and this is not the first time it has happened in this court in the last two weeks. The last time it happened the probation officer asked the judge what sort of evidence he had in mind.”

The judge said it seemed to him the probation service was not instructing lawyers to represent them “to save money”.

“I’m shooting the messenger, I appreciate that,” he told Mr Atkins. “This has just got to stop. We can’t have breach proceedings constantly not going forward because the probation service don’t know how to conduct them.”

The case was adjourned to July 5.

The Ministry of Justice, which manages the probation service, was approached for comment.

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