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  Damilola Taylor: Young people in court
Updated 23 April 2002, 17.56


Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Crime and justice

Overview
The jury in the Damilola murder trial has cleared both defendants.

The defendants and the prosecution witness at this trial were all in their teens. The court procedure was modified to make it less intimidating.

Students look at the criminal court system, and design their own user-friendly courtroom.

Learning aims

  • Elements of the criminal court system
  • How courts are modified if a trial involves young people
Icebreaker
Read the story
Use the teachers' background (below) for the following question and answer exercise.
  • Do students know that there are different types of criminal court? Can they name any?
  • Do they know that there are special courts for young people?
  • How do youth courts differ from adult courts?
  • Why are these differences necessary?
  • What do they think of the changes that were made for the Damilola Taylor trial?
  • Did the changes help the witness feel comfortable?

Main activity
Read the story


Should wigs stay or go?
Design a courtroom that will allow a bullying incident in your school to be dealt with.

Produce an annotated sketch to show how a bullying courtroom might look. Show how witnesses would be protected.

  • How would such sensitive issues be handled?
  • Where would the court be sited?
  • What would it look like?
  • How would people enter and leave?
  • Would they see each other?
  • Who would be the judge
  • Would there be a jury?
  • Would people have representatives?
  • Could you call a witness?
Plenary
Why is it necessary for witnesses to be questioned thoroughly? Can this ever be balanced with witnesses feeling comfortable?

Extension activity
Write a letter to a high court judge explaining the arguments for allowing people under 18 to sit on a jury.

Teachers' Background
Magistrate's court - deals with summary offences.

  • This court is where all criminal cases start out. If the offence is less serious then the magistrates will come to a verdict themselves. If it is a more serious case then they will send it on to a Crown Court - if they believe there is enough evidence to hold a trial.
  • There is no jury at a magistrate's court.
  • Magistrates or justices of the peace (JPs) are members of the local community.

Crown court - deals with indictable offences.

  • A judge is in charge of the trial but the jury reach the verdict. If the jury find that the accused is guilty then the judge will decide upon a sentance and in doing so will consider prior convictions. These will not be revealed to the jury.

  • Jury: 12 men and women aged between 18 and 70. The jury are selected at random from the electoral register.
If the accused is under 18 they will probably be sent to a youth court. This differs from an adult court in the following ways:
  • There is a panel of three magistrates who have been trained to deal with cases involving young people.
  • The magistrates will include at least one woman and at least one man.
  • The public will not be allowed into the court.
  • If the accused is under 16 their parents must attend the court.
  • The name and identity of the accused may not be reported in the press.
Those under 18 may appear in an adult court if:
  • They have been charged along with an adult, in which case they will go to a magistrates court.
  • The crime they are accused of is so serious that the trial will be heard in a crown court.

For all links and resources click at top right.


More InfoBORDER=0
UKDecision time for Damilola jury
UK'Upset' witness walks out
UKThe scene in the courtroom
PicturesImages of crime
Find OutWho was Damilola Taylor?
Find OutGuide to the child-friendly courtroom
Find OutGuide to the law

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Past StoriesBORDER=0
Decision time for Damilola jury

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Web Links
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The court service
Note: You will leave CBBC. We are not responsible for other websites.

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Full Teachers Section
WALES curriculum relevance
NORTHERN IRELAND curriculum relevance
ENGLAND curriculum relevance
SCOTLAND curriculum relevance
News story: Life as a tagged teenager
Find out who does what in a crown court
>>BBCi Schools: Loads more citizenship
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