From a Victoria gothic style, the massive and toweringly high structure of the Royal Court of Justice, reminds to any judges, lawyers, tourist or visitors, the nobility and power of one of the largest court of Europe. Opened in 1882 by Queen Victoria, the design of this impressive construction comes ironically from a one year competition between twelve architects. The delighted winner, George Edmund Street, was a knight of the French Legion of Honour.
The Royal Court of Justice houses both the High Court and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Inside the Criminal Appeal Court n°8, at the top of the second stairs on the left, an eloquent silence had seized the small room. The Lord Justice, Adrian Fullord, brilliant and recognized judge, elected to the International Criminal Court, and legal figure of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights, is carefully listening to Paul Jarvis representing the Attorney General.
In the azure of the carpet, the dark brown of the wood and the opaque green light of the lamps, a warm atmosphere is immersing the room; but suddenly, the oppressing tic-tac of the clock, the squeaks of the benches and the serious look of the Lord, consume instantaneously the remaining slight and tepid light of hope.
It’s with a calm and a profound respect that Mr. Jarvis presents to the Lord its arguments and requests concerning the defendant’s condemnation. As, the case concerns two minor boys, of thirteen and fifteen years old at the time of the facts, their anonymity has been respected. The low and sober tone of Mr. Jarvis’ voice, and the serenity but seriousness of his words, froze the few people standing in the room. “Intentional violence”, “serious injuries”, “life disabilities” – a young blond girl stands at the back, surrounded by three other teenagers, her eyes are red and her hands tighten – “responsibilities”, “public protection”, “custody is unavoidable”, she left, crying.
A young fifteen years old boy kicked, stamped and punched a thirteen years old boy who had sent an insulting text to one of his friend. The victim suffered devastating injuries, including a shattered cheekbone and eye socket. He is now experiencing permanent physical disabilities, which have dashed his hopes of becoming a professional rugby player.
This boy’s life has been destroyed and only the judge at the left of the Lord, eyes closed, seemed to appreciate the moment. Not far from him, at the front, focus and concentrate on taking its notes in a Teeline Shorthand system, Sian Harrison, the journalist for Strand News, didn’t express a single emotion, the routine she said.
From the grandstand, the Lord began to reiterate the facts before the final judgement. His high position gives him a respectful superiority that no one seems willing to contradict. At the back of the room, the parents of the defendant are there, waiting to know what did the Lord do with the future of their seventeen years old son.
“It is a serious crime” argues the Lord of Justice. As a result, Calen Gaze is convicted to a four-years term in prison. He is now a criminal, the anonymity on his name can be lifted in the public interest. His mother, almost entirely hid under a blue parka and a white hat, suddenly starts crying. The shock is rough, she moved from hope to distress in few seconds. Her mouth and nose are slightly shaken, like she didn’t want to break down. Her husband tightens her hands strongly. They stand up, quickly and leave the room.
Everybody stand, and start packing, moving for the next condemnation. “It is fair” argues the court reporter.