Courtroom drama unfolds

University students put on a mock bail hearing
University students put on a mock bail hearing
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The highly emotive subject of human rights came into sharp relief for students who were treated to a mock bail hearing by a dynamic team of university students.

Boys and girls from South Downs College in Waterlooville and Portsmouth High School were transfixed as they watched the drama unfold at the University of Portsmouth’s mock courtroom.

An allegedly abusive husband who had been charged with assault was fighting to get bail against his wife’s wishes.

Two drama students assumed the roles of husband and wife while law students, dressed in wigs and gowns, played advocates in the hearing, which was carried out before a real judge and two magistrates.

The event was organised by the university’s School of Law to give youngsters the opportunity to see exactly how an application for bail would be carried out in crown court.

Millie Hunter and Lara Hardwick, both 16, from Portsmouth High School admitted the whole experience was so real they felt like they were actually in a courtroom watching a genuine hearing.

Lara adds: ‘Being in a courtroom setting made it so believable.

‘I’ve never thought about law as a serious career path for me before.

‘But when I came up with the same bail conditions as the judge I was very surprised and really encouraged.’

Drama graduates Carmen Flynn, 22, and Tom Harrison, 25, played the unhappy couple.

Third year law student Jack Lloyd, 20, argued the wife had the right to life as Craig McColl, 20, also a third year law student, defended the husband’s right to liberty.

In the end, Judge James Kirby granted the defendant bail on the condition he didn’t go near his wife.

Bernard Davis, senior lecturer from the school of law, says: ‘It is fantastic to be able to show pupils how a bail hearing is executed in court.

‘Having the mock courtroom means we can bring an event like this to life.

‘The university is working hard to reach out to local schools and colleges to give young people a flavour of law in a real setting.

Bernard adds: ‘Although the hearing was fictitious, it took place in a courtroom that is a replica of a crown court.

‘There is a dock, witness box, public gallery, jury rooms and interview rooms.

‘This made it as close to the real thing as you can get.’