Friday, October 26, 2007

Coming to Belfast may get you into trouble with a judge!

While Belfast City Council are keen to attract tourists to Belfast (see the earlier posting about, they may not have expected to hold up trials in the process!

The Register publishes a story (via the Herald Express) about a case in Exeter Crown Court that has been delayed when a key witness got fed up waiting around for the trial to begin and hopped on a plane over to Belfast.

It’s a conspiracy to defraud case centred around a man who is alleged to have put relatively low value goods - computer games, DVDs and perfumes - up for auction on eBay, and then cashed the buyers’ cheques without sending the goods. Two other accused men (one from Belfast) pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in December.

However, the case is now in limbo while an eBay employee due to take the witness stand returns from his brief trip to Northern Ireland. The witness was airborne by the time he was needed, The Register reports:

Judge Philip Wassall told the jury he considered ordering a plane carrying [the witness] from Exeter to Belfast to turn around while in mid air so the man, described only as an "eBay employee," could offer his testimony. The judge decided against that option after considering the inconvenience to other passengers.

A witness summons has now been issued, and the witness could be ordered to pay costs for the court’s wasted time.

Maybe Belfast tourist ads should carry disclaimers ...

Coming to Belfast may get you into trouble with a judge!

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