World Cup blamed for court no-shows

THE World Cup was yesterday named as prime suspect in an unusual case of defendants failing to appear at court. But as business ground to a halt at some courts, magistrates warned of stiff penalties for those who, whether because of sunshine or the beautiful game, failed to make attending court their first goal.

THE World Cup was yesterday named as prime suspect in an unusual case of defendants failing to appear at court.

But as business ground to a halt at some courts, magistrates warned of stiff penalties for those who, whether because of sunshine or the beautiful game, failed to make attending court their first goal.

Exact figures as to the number of non-attending defendants were unavailable at the time of going to press, but court staff described the numerous failures to turn up at court and the World Cup kick off as “an incredible coincidence”.

Magistrates at Bury St Edmunds found themselves rising a number of times during the morning because of a lack of cases to be brought on.


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A spokeswoman for Bury St Edmunds Magistrates Court said possible reasons for the low turn-out included the start of the World Cup and the hot and sunny weather.

But she issued a warning to defendants, saying: “I am sure if they are watching football rather than attending court they will be hearing from us.

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“It must be said, at the same time, that we always get some who fail to attend court. And yesterday we had private prosecutions where many do not have to attend and trials, which were few in number.”

A spokesman for Her Majesty's Court Service, based in London, said he did not believe that the World Cup had an impact on court attendance yesterday.

At Sudbury Magistrates Court a number of warrants were served for non-attending defendants although court staff could not say whether the prime suspect was the World Cup.

At South East Suffolk Magistrates Court in Ipswich, the justice system was described as “fairly busy” by security staff.

But a court spokesman said: “The list has been quite light but we've been reasonably busy. Some people have not turned up and I reckon that could be because of the World Cup.”

Ross Taylor, court manager at Ipswich Crown Court, said no bench warrants had to be issued yesterday but added defendants were probably too scared by the seriousness of crown court cases to miss a hearing.

He said: “Crown courts do tend to be a little more serious because they are a higher court. But we also do not have as many cases as the magistrates' courts. To the best of my knowledge, no bench warrants were issued today.”

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