A child sex abuse trial in Britain collapsed after the judge “fell asleep” as an alleged victim was giving evidence. Record Philip Cattan, a barrister who sits as a part-time judge, “nodded off” as the girl, who was under 16 years of age, answered questions from the defence about the alleged abuse she had suffered.
Lawyers then raised a “point of law” after they became concerned that he had missed vital evidence. The judge was then confronted with the accusation that he had slept through part of the cross-examination, who was giving evidence via videolink due to her age.
The decision was then taken to abandon the trial, and the jury discharged.
The Daily Mail reports that the girl giving evidence was one of two young alleged victims of John Quigley, 49, who faces charges of rape of a child under 13, sexual assault of a child under 13, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and assault by penetration.
The Crown Prosecution Service said: “The jury has been discharged in the trial of R v John Quigley at Manchester Crown Court following an issue that arose in court during the cross examination of the first complainant in the case.
“The trial will be re-listed as soon as possible. The complainants and other witnesses have been kept informed.”
Recorder Cattan now faces an inquiry over the trial’s collapse. A spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said: “The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office is aware of the allegation that Recorder Philip Cattan fell asleep during a trial at Manchester Crown Court.
“The matter is being considered in accordance with the Judicial Conduct Rules 2013.”
The collapse and re-trail will mean that the alleged victim will now have to repeat her harrowing evidence all over again.
Kama Melly, a leading barrister who specialises in child sex crime, told the Daily Mirror: “It is devastating for a victim to have a trial delayed so long while an investigation takes place.
“This is no doubt a traumatic time for the family and this will only serve to make matters worse for them.”