The lawyer of a 16-year-old boy accused of slashing another teen outside Tesco criticised the borough council for not sending a youth offending team or social worker to his crown court hearing.
Emma Handslip’s client, who cannot be named as he is under 18, faces a single charge of wounding with intent. It follows a stabbing in Toothill on Thursday, October 8, that left an 18-year-old man with wounds in the arm and leg. The boy is yet to enter a plea.
Magistrates remanded him into youth custody last week to appear before Swindon Crown Court.
As a child remanded into custody he is the legal responsibility of the borough council. And when no officer from Swindon council’s social services or youth offending team turned up to Tuesday’s hearing, Ms Handslip appealed to the judge. The exasperated lawyer said: “Once somebody such as my client is put into detention…he becomes the council’s legal responsibility. There should be people here today.”
A representative from Swindon Borough Council, who was neither the boy’s social worker nor a member of the youth offending team, apologised to the judge: “I can’t offer you a reasonable explanation.”
Judge Peter Crabtree adjourned the case for a plea hearing on November 6. He said: “Those who should be here – who have legal responsibilities for the defendant – should be here.”
Michael Hall appeared for the Crown Prosecution Service.
Following the case, a Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “Ms Handslip is right to raise this as someone from the council’s Youth Offending Team should have been present at the hearing in addition to the member of staff from the council that was present.
“A combination of miscommunication and staff sickness did not help matters and we have taken the issue up with the relevant team managers to ensure this young person receives the necessary support.”