Tuesday, February 5, 2013
A Norwich judge has revealed he had previously called on justice bosses to consider whether women prisoners could be accommodated closer to Norwich - to avoid female defendants having to travel the current 80 miles to appear at court.
Judge Peter Jacobs has spoken out following a four week murder trial held at Norwich Crown Court after which Kelly Barnes and Jodie Barnes, formerly Ramsbottom, who were civil partners and from Bixley Close, were both found guilty of the murder of 67-year-old Barry Reeve and sentenced to a minimum of 24 years in prison.
During the trial they had to be transported from HMP Peterborough every day as that is the nearest women’s prison to Norwich.
Judge Jacobs said an agreement had been reached that for trials starting at 10.30am defendants would arrive at Norwich by 10am, giving them 30 minutes to recuperate.
He said: “There are occasions when it breaks down and it did on two occasions during the course of this murder trial and as a result on one occasion we didn’t sit at all and lost a day and on the other occasion we were unable to sit until lunchtime.”
On one occasion Judge Jacobs spoke to the jury about the problem and revealed he had previously inquired about the possibility of a facility for women prisoners when HMP Bure was being built at the former RAF Coltishall site.
He said: “As far as Coltishall was concerned, when it was confirmed it was going to be a prison and at the time they were still determining the nature of the prison, I raised through the court service with the Home Office whether one could have an adjacent wing that would assist with the transport of women offenders to crown court.”
He added: “I was told it wasn’t possible and so that’s how the position was left.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “There are currently no plans to open a women’s prison in Norwich.”