Open justice : A disabled paedophile made legal history when his case was heard in open air because his wheelchair couldn’t make it up the steps of a Georgian crown court
A disabled paedophile made legal history when his case was held in open air because his wheelchair couldn’t get up the steps of a historic crown court.
Robert Newman, 47, who pleaded guilty to possessing over 1,000 indecent images of children, is thought to be the first man ever to be arraigned outside a court.
He arrived at York Crown Court in a wheelchair for his case but was unable to make it up the steps of the Georgian building, which opened its doors in 1777.
When his case was called, the Recorder of York Stephen Ashurst agreed with defence barrister Glen Parsons that Newman could not possibly make it inside the building, known as The Castle.
The decision was made to take the case outside and put the charge to the defendant within the court precincts, just below the The Castle’s stone steps.
The judge, Mr Parsons and prosecutor David Lampitt duly held a formal court hearing outside in the sunshine with the court clerk who read out the single charge against Newman.
He pleaded guilty to making just over a thousand indecent images of children.
The hearing lasted a matter of minutes and the judge adjourned the case for probation reports and freed Newman on bail.
The defendant, from York, will be sentenced on September 29, when he will appear at the Crown Court via video link from Scarborough Magistrates which does have disabled access.
The Scarborough court was chosen instead of the closer magistrates courts in York and Selby which also lack sufficient disabled facilities.
The Recorder of York Stephen Ashurst removed his wig for the hearing that was held at the foot of the steps at York Crown Court on Monday (August 24).
He stood at the bottom of the two flights of old stone steps facing out to defendant Robert Newman, who faced the court building.
He stood directly in front of the paedophile with the clerk and barristers standing at the side of him.
The case, held at the bottom of the 10 steps, lasted only four minutes.
In that time the clerk put the charge to Newman and he pleaded guilty.
No photographs were allowed during the court session, as is usual for court proceeding held inside.
The hearing was viewed by a group of passing tourists and a couple of other defendants who had come outside to have a cigarette while they were waiting for their own cases.
Newman had arrived alone for the start of court sessions at 10am. He remained in the same spot at the bottom of the stairs until his case was heard at around 12.30pm.
He remained unperturbed about making legal history.