Woman committed for trial in taxi outside court: Judge takes unusual step of conducting case in car park
Legal history was made when an alleged fraudster was committed for trial... seated in the rear of a taxi in the courthouse car park.
District Judge Alan White, his bodyguards, court security staff, administration staff, prison officers and lawyers for the defence and prosecution, yesterday upped sticks from Antrim Magistrates Court and filed out to the car park where 62-year-old Olga Hadassagh Charlton sat in the rear of a Mercedes taxi driven by a friend.
As the slightly bewildered looking driver stood off to one side and Charlton leaned against the glass of the rear passenger window, the Preliminary Enquiry was conducted in the chilly open air.
Charlton, from Seacliff Road in Bangor, is accused of taking out a £40,000 loan on December 11, 2007, by falsely claiming a life-threatening illness for which she needed an operation urgently, was to be carried out privately, and that she would repay the loan after three months at an interest rate of 10% a month.
She is further charged with converting criminal property, namely cash and bank drafts of £40,000 on dates between December 10, 2007 and October 8, 2010.
A prosecution lawyer submitted, in the car park, that there was a prima facie case against Charlton and defence lawyer Neil Moore did not make any contrary submissions.
Leaning in through the opened driver's door, a court clerk asked the alleged fraudster if she wished to call evidence or give evidence herself but she declined to do so, shaking her head from her seat in the rear of the blue taxi.
District Judge White committed Charlton for trial at Antrim Crown Court and releasing her on her own bail of £300, ordered her to be arraigned next month.
The reason for the unconventional location of the hearing was not disclosed.