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'It’s not local justice' says former lawyer who is a witness in the trial of bus driver facing charges following Newmarket crash

A former solicitor, called as a witness in the trial of a bus driver facing charges relating to an incident in which a Newmarket schoolgirl lost part of her leg, said it was disgraceful the hearing was being held nearly 60 miles away.

Paul Forshaw, who lives in Exning, witnessed the accident in Exning Road in November last year, as a result of which Evelina Kravale, then a Year 6 pupil at Laureate Community Academy, had her left foot and the lower part of her left leg amputated and also sustained a broken collarbone.

David Badcock, 72, of The Shade, Soham , has been charged with driving without due care and attention to which he has entered a not guilty plea. The trial has been scheduled for December 8 at Colchester Magistrates’ Court.

Emergency services at the scene of the crash in Exning Road, on November 7 last year.
Emergency services at the scene of the crash in Exning Road, on November 7 last year.

“It is nearly 60 miles away, and well over one hour travelling time by car in rush hour on the A14 and A12, and even more difficult to get to by train,” said Mr Forshaw. “The accident occurred about a mile from my house and I believe most of the witnesses are local to the Newmarket area, including the defendant. Obviously going to Colchester will cause all concerned extreme inconvenience.

“Is this local justice? The answer is no. When we had local courts, during trials, especially road traffic accidents, the magistrates would sometimes visit the locus and at the least knew the area in question. In the case I am a witness local knowledge of the locus I believe is essential.

“Personally I think that this is a disgrace, and it would not surprise me if some of the witnesses may be reluctant to travel that distance. I was not even asked for my witness availability, which was standard in my day.”

Mr Forshaw has contacted Newmarket MP Matt Hancock and asked him to take up his concerns with the magistrates’ courts clerks’ office in Ipswich .

“This case is a high profile case, and it is definitely not in the interests of the people of Newmarket to have witnesses having to travel all the way to Colchester,” he said.

With courts in Newmarket, Mildenhall , Ely, and Bury St Edmunds , now closed, the nearest magistrates’ court to Newmarket in Suffolk is Ipswich.

Last week, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore commended efforts to ensure the criminal justice system continued effectively despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. “In my role I need to ensure victims are supported, so I am hugely indebted to those working with victims and witnesses, for example, the police witness care unit, who have worked tirelessly to ensure victims and witnesses remain engaged and supported during delays to their cases.”

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