A serious incident in Blackfriars Crown Court
I was booked by Witness Care to attend Blackfriars Crown Court yesterday (21 February 2012) in my capacity as an Interpreter in the case of R. I. I was to interpret for the witness (victim) in the case, C. I. An incident occurred at court which I would like to describe.
Once at court, I waited in the witness room with Ms C. I. She was supposed to appear as a prosecution witness in the case against her husband R. I. who was charged with making "Threats to kill". Just before lunchtime the PLO in charge of the case came to inform us that the defendant had pleaded guilty and that Ms. I. would not have to give evidence. Ms. I. was told that her husband had received a Restriction order for 3 years and that he would not be allowed to contact her himself or through a third party during that period.
After this discussion we were told that we were free to go and I accompanied Ms I. to the court exit. Just before going out, an unkept-looking man approached Ms I. and told her that he had some messages for her from her husband. I was concerned that this appeared to be a breach of the restrictions order that had just been made. I asked the man his name. He said in poor Romanian (he was not a native Romanian speaker) that he worked for an agency (he was not sure of the name, but told me it was something like "Appliances" - I believe the agency in question was Applied Language Solutions). He said that he had been sent by the agency to interpret in court for R. I., the defendant. Ms I. seemed utterly confused, and mindful of the apparent breach of the restrictions order, I suggested she go home. I then went to report this incident at CPS offices. One of the staff took me to the listing office and helped me to fill in a complaint. In the event that the matter is taken further, I should state that the interpreter's Romanian was so poor that it is possible that he did not manage to convey the meaning of a restrictions order to the defendant. It may therefore be the case that the defendant left court without knowing the conditions that had been imposed on him.