Poor technology disrupted court
DILAPIDATED technology and poor resources were today blamed for the “extraordinary” disruption to a trial at Ipswich Crown Court.The multi-million pound court building in Russell Road is equipped with a range of hi-tech equipment - including video links, the internet and metal detectors - to ensure the smooth running of cases.
DILAPIDATED technology and poor resources were today blamed for the “extraordinary” disruption to a trial at Ipswich Crown Court.
The multi-million pound court building in Russell Road is equipped with a range of hi-tech equipment - including video links, the internet and metal detectors - to ensure the smooth running of cases.
But court staff were left bewildered when proceedings were halted by an antiquated cassette tape player during a trial earlier this month .
The trial of Ian Rush of Brand End Road, Butterwick, Boston, Lincolnshire who was yesterday found not guilty of assisting another to retain benefit of drug trafficking was thrown into confusion when prosecutors tried to play a tape of a police interview earlier this month.
The jury could not hear it properly because the sound quality of the tape player was so poor.
A review of funding is now being conducted after Judge David Goodin blasted the failure to provide basic working technology in the court.
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Judge Goodin was forced to adjourn the hearing while court staff went in search of a replacement.
But they returned saying that the only other tape player in the building was being used in another hearing.
After some compromise however the staff were able to borrow the other tape player for one hour until it was required again.
With his hands tied by this time constraint, Judge Goodin said he would reschedule the day by taking an early lunch after the hour in the hope of completing the necessary parts of the hearing later in the afternoon.
The bemused judge said: “I think it is quite extraordinary in the 21st Century that we cannot supply two (working) machines to these courts.”
A top QC who handles cases at the court later said: “This building cost £30million and we can only afford one tape player.”
The incident has prompted a review by court management, who said they were investigating whether there were funds available to buy more equipment to prevent this happening again.
Julie Crosby, deputy court manager, said: “There was a need in court to play audio recordings as part of the evidence to the jury.
“The court does have equipment available on which to play this type of evidence, which is very rarely used. In this instance, very unusually, it was being used in an alternative court room.
“I do not have information about how often the equipment is required to hand, but could estimate it at about half-a-dozen times a year for the five court rooms that we sit.
“While the lack of available equipment did cause some inconvenience to the proceedings, a solution was found quickly. Within 30 minutes the tapes were being played to the jury and proceedings continued.”
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SENTIMENTALISTS may view the decline of the cassette tape with some sadness.
For more than thirty years it was a frontrunner in sound recording and playback technology.
But with recent advancements - most notably MP3 players and internet downloading - the cassette has seen a dramatic slump in popularity, which has led many major retailers to stop selling them altogether.
The Phillips Company of the Netherlands introduced the first audio-cassette in 1963 and sales rose steadily until its peak in the 1980s when it enjoyed unparalleled success thanks to the invention of the Sony Walkman.
In 1989, helped by falling prices of hi-fi systems, 83million music cassettes were sold in the UK.
And in the days before downloads, a mix tape was, for many young men, a key part of romance.
The practice was memorably captured by Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity, which laid out the rules for the perfect compilation.
But, according to market research firm Understanding & Solutions, sales had plummeted to just 100,000 in 2006.
Cassette tapes are still, however, used when recording police interviews and are occasionally played in court as part of the evidence.