While some stayed in St Catz to continue their courses, our Law School Preparation students visited the UK’s central criminal court yesterday to get a taste of the real-life court environment and its procedures. The Old Bailey in London deals with the most serious criminal cases in the region of Greater London, and in exceptional circumstances takes in those of the rest of England and Wales as well.
Yesterday, students braced themselves to hear about a series of grim and gruesome murders, armed robberies, and acts of terrorism. For example, they sat in on the sentencing of Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell, an Irish Republican accused of making 14 pipe bombs for use against British police officers and military staff. The soldier, who appeared at the trial via a live feed from Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes, admits preparing acts of terrorism.
Also facing their fates at the Old Bailey yesterday was a gang of cannabis-growers who worked across Kent and Norfolk to produce “industrial quantities” of the illegal drug, raking in over £25 million a year from their enterprise. This case provoked discussion amongst students over the possible benefits of legalising cannabis, a measure proving popular in certain states in the US; legalisation is an alternative policy to the ongoing “war on drugs”, and is thought by its proponents to avoid such negative socio-economic effects as the creation of a permanent underclass of drug criminals, high costs to taxpayers from inflated rates of incarceration, and adverse impact on the livelihoods of the growers themselves.
Back in St Catz, students engaged in battles of their own, putting each other to the mock-sword in a stage-combat workshop.