Comic problems at new court

WHAT does Ipswich's newest court building have in common with a comedian from the 1970s?They both suffer from a dodgy sound system.Faults in the sound equipment at Ipswich Crown Court are disrupting trials, The Evening Star can reveal today.

WHAT does Ipswich's newest court building have in common with a comedian from the 1970s?

They both suffer from a dodgy sound system.

Faults in the sound equipment at Ipswich Crown Court are disrupting trials, The Evening Star can reveal today.

On several occasions, witnesses have been asked to repeat testimony and juries have struggled to hear evidence due to problems with the microphones.

When witnesses are speaking, the microphones have been known to cut in and out, breaking up their voices with a crackling sound.

They sound like the poor microphones in some comedy clubs, immortalised by comic Norman Collier in his act during the 1970s.

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In one trial, a barrister asked the jury to raise their hands if they could not hear and told his client: "The microphones are very bad."

The Star has learned there is an intermittent problem with the sound system, which was installed at the new crown court when it opened in June.

At a trial in court two for a defendant accused of burglary, defending counsel Lindsay Cox told his client: "Speak loudly so we can hear what you say."

During a break in proceedings, Mr Cox told The Star: "I think the acoustics are very poor. The microphones clearly don't work.

"It is hard to hear sometimes what is being said by witnesses and the judge. I have also noticed it in court three and four."

A legal action group today said this problem raises human rights issues.

Janet Arkinstall, of Justice, said: "Not only does justice need to be seen to be done it needs to be heard to be done. The defendant could say he hadn't had a fair trial.

"During the course of the trial, the defendant has to be able to hear so they can give instructions (to their lawyer) on the spot.

"And if it gets to a stage where the judge or jury wasn't able to hear what was going on, they would have to stop the trial at great cost to everybody. The problem should be fixed."

Robin Hill, Ipswich Crown Court manager, said: "Apparently there seems to have been some intermittent fault. We are going to get some people to come out and look at the system again."

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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