Police accept failings in court case delay

A NUMBER of factors, including the coronavirus lockdown, led to a delay of five years in a criminal case going before court, a Guernsey Police spokesperson has said.

A police officer in St Peter Port, Guernsey. (28907660)
A police officer in St Peter Port, Guernsey. (28907660)

Liam Michael James Simon, 22, had denied assaulting his then-partner on Christmas Day in 2015, but this week was found guilty. He is set to be sentenced for this and other matters later this month.

At the hearing Judge Graeme McKerrell was highly critical of the case being so heavily delayed, saying the case had lain on a shelf in the police station and not been dealt with, even when the defendant was prosecuted for other matters.

A Guernsey Police spokesperson said they accepted there had been failings.

‘We acknowledge that there have been delays in bringing this prosecution to trial, which is attributable to a number of factors, including a changeover in police computer systems and the defendant himself leaving the island for a period of time,’ they said.

‘In addition, there have been recent postponements of the hearing, in part caused due to the Covid lockdown. We have explained the circumstances to the victim and remained fully in contact with them throughout recent proceedings. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage, given that sentencing of the defendant has yet to take place.’

The police did not say what safeguards had been put in place to ensure that a delay like this one could not happen again.

This is not the first time there have been delays in bringing cases to court.

In 2018, it was revealed the Criminal Justice Unit had a backlog of cases caused by an increase in not guilty pleas. At that time there were more than 40 cases that were heavily delayed, one of which saw a man not sentenced until more a year after he had entered a guilty plea.

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