Pupils from second and third form spent last weekend in England, competing in the national final of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial competition. After weeks of practice, which included a visit from Olivia O’Kane, a local lawyer, and a rehearsal at Queen’s University Belfast in their Moot Court, 15 members of the Mock Trial team travelled to Nottingham with Dr Haire and Mrs Atkinson on Friday 16 June to compete in the National Final of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial competition. They arrived at lunchtime, and made their way to the centre of the town where they participated in a walking tour and saw some of the sites of the city. They learned about the history of Nottingham and about the legend of Robin Hood. They also got to put on hard hats and go into some of the city’s caves! There was time for a final rehearsal on Friday evening before an early night to make sure they were rested for the final the following morning.
The sun was shining on the day of the competition, and the team arrived at the Magistrates Court by the river in good time. Our prosecution team was up first, and Darcey Jamison and Katie McMeekin made their best efforts to convict the opposing team’s defendant, who was very challenging on the day. She was found not-guilty by the 6 student-magistrates’ who oversaw the case. The defence team ran their case in the second round, and Ellie Massey gave a sterling performance as a defendant accused of having damaged and stolen bicycles, but unfortunately for her, she was found guilty of the offence. Lawyer Charlotte Keers was particularly tenacious in her cross-examination of one of the other team’s defence witnesses.
The girls had some time to shop in the city centre that afternoon, and after dinner the team went on an outing to the cinema, and came back to the hotel for hot chocolate and birthday cake. The next day, they visited the National Justice Museum, where they met real historical figures from the past who gave them a great insight into how law and order has changed over the centuries, and they explored Nottingham’s Old Court House including the steps where the gallows once stood and real cells in which prisoners were kept.
It was a busy trip, but a really valuable experience. The pupils learnt a lot about the law by taking part in this competition, and though it was really hard work, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Special thanks go to those who supported the girls’ participation in the National Final; the Citizenship Foundation, the Law Society of Northern Ireland, the Bar Library, the Belfast Solicitors’ Association and Causeway Asset Management.