Family court judge is hospitalised after being ATTACKED by a suspect in court who was defending himself
- The judge is recovering at home and being offer support by senior colleagues
A senior family court judge has been treated in hospital after being assaulted by a defendant in a case he was hearing.
The defendant, who was representing himself in court and cannot be named for legal reasons, has since pleaded guilty to assault, criminal damage and causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress. He will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.
The judge, who is now recovering at home, is being offered counselling and support by senior colleagues.
The Family Law Bar Association said it was ‘shocked’ by the violence but conceded that family law cases can often be fraught, due to the highly sensitive topics, such as rape and domestic abuse, that are frequently discussed.
Hannah Markham, head of the Family Law Bar Association, said: ‘There hasn’t been another example of an assault like this over the past 40 years. But it does not make this incident any less shocking.
A man who assaulted a senior family court judge during a case will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court
‘These moments happen in a second and you don’t always know that they are going to come.’ She added: ‘You get very robust security services at the door of the building, but once you’re in the court we’re trying to make it a comfortable setting and give people the space to give their best evidence.
‘So you don’t want people watching and undermining that process.’
Security at the entrance includes full body searches, making people drink a small sip of any liquid they attempt to bring in to prove it’s not acid, and asking people to hand over any glass objects.
But while there is a security presence on the door of the building, no guards are visible in the corridors, in the courts or outside the courtrooms themselves.
The shocking attack comes amid cuts to legal aid that mean more people are representing themselves in court and do not have a lawyer.
When asked about legal aid cuts, Ms Markham said: ‘When you have representation you have someone who can manage your expectations, talk you through what’s going to happen and help you respond to difficult things.
‘But people representing themselves might not understand what is going on.’
A spokesman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service described the assault as ‘shocking’ and said that ‘Ministers had been in contact’ with the affected judge.
They said they take the safety of judges ‘very seriously’ and will be ‘urgently reviewing’ the attack’s circumstances.
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