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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Judge calls for jury law review
Jurors in a courtroom
Juries could hear more about defendants on trial
A Crown Court judge has backed the idea of reforming the law to allow juries to be told of defendants' previous convictions.

Judge Denis Clark made the comments on Wednesday as he sent a Merseyside armed robber to jail for 14 years.

During his three day trial, John Nippy Dixon told the jury "I wouldn't commit robberies", despite carrying out the acts while on licence for almost identical offences.

Responding to Dixon's denial Judge Clark said "wouldn't you?", as he read out how the defendant had previously been sentenced to eight years in jail.


I hope people in higher places re-examine the law to see if it needs fundamental alteration

Judge Denis Clark
He also told the jury Dixon has a lengthy list of previous convictions for robbery, assault, burglary and theft.

During the latest robberies 33-year-old Dixon targeted women in Liverpool city centre between March and May this year.

He demanded they either hand over money or withdraw it from a cashpoint.

The eight year sentence imposed in October 1996 was for robbing young female students at cash points in the same area.

'Butter wouldn't melt'

Judge Clark said: "There is an intelligent, well informed national debate going on about whether we should tell juries, as is done in other countries, more about the person they are trying.

"More about the man who they may think 'butter wouldn't melt in his mouth'.

"This jury now knows all these [students] who picked him out happened to pick out a man who had been robbing in the same area many years before.

'Callous behaviour'

"Why juries cannot be told that I don't know, but I hope people in higher places... re-examine the law to see if in the year 2002 it needs fundamental alteration and we should allow juries in certain circumstances to hear far more."

Earlier at Liverpool Crown Court, Dixon was convicted of five robberies and two attempted robberies, for the latest offences.

The judge told Dixon, of Rawson Road, Seaforth, "You are a nasty piece of work and this was callous behaviour.

"You are an ongoing danger and bring a very bad name to this very popular and hospital city."


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Click here to go to Liverpool
 VOTE RESULTS
Should juries know about past convictions?

Yes
 69.17% 

No
 30.83% 

5404 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

18 Sep 02 | England
18 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
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