Prison boss could face court


Recorder Shamim QureshiA judge has threatened to haul a prison governor up for contempt of court – after warders twice failed to get a prisoner to his court hearing.

Furious Wolverhampton Crown Court recorder Recorder Shamim Qureshi, pictured, is to write to the Prison Service – and said he may demand the Home Office foot the bill for the protracted court hearing.

His comments came after prisoner John Petit was not brought to court for sentencing following a previous hearing where he was convicted of assault.

He is being held at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool.

His family, solicitors and court officials were assembled for yesterday’s hearing, at which the judge apologised for the blunder and pledged to take action.

It emerged there had been a number of hearings in the case, none of which were Petit attended.

The 19-year-old was convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm, in his absence, at Stafford Crown Court in February.

Mr Qureshi yesterday said: “The problem lies with the prison system. I have not come across a case like this since the mid-80s when the problem was more widespread. This is an isolated incident.

“I am writing to the prison governor asking him to show why I should not hold him in contempt. It is not just today and yesterday – the defendant has never been brought before the court. He has been in custody for a few months and there have been four or five hearings.”

Pettit, of Hagley Park Road, Rugeley, is facing at least 12 months’ detention for beating up a schoolboy fishing at a brook near Cannock in September 2006.

He was due to appear at court yesterday after he failed to show up on Thursday. Mr Qureshi had said he would not sentence Pettit without him being there.

Pettit had denied the assault but failed to turn up for the trial and the case was heard in his absence. A warrant was issued but it now appears the prison service may have been at fault for his non-appearance.

The case has been adjourned till June 20.

HMP Altcourse was today unavailable for comment.


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