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First televised sentencing to make legal history at Old Bailey

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The first televised sentencing is to take place at the Old Bailey.

Judge Sarah Munro QC will make legal history on Thursday as she passes sentence on Ben Oliver for the manslaughter of his grandfather.

The footage will be broadcast on news channels and made available online through Sky News, BBC, ITN and the PA news agency.

FW Pomeroy’s Statue of Justice stands above the Central Criminal Court building, Old Bailey, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

(PA Archive)

The move to allow cameras in the crown court follows a change in the law in 2020 but implementation was delayed due to the pandemic.

It will open up some of the most high-profile courts and allow the public to see and hear judges explain the reasoning behind their sentences.

Only the judge will be filmed to protect the privacy of victims, witnesses and jurors.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Opening up the courtroom to cameras to film the sentencing of some the country’s most serious offenders will improve transparency and reinforce confidence in the justice system.

Inside Court No 1 at the Old Bailey in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

(PA Wire)

“The public will now be able to see justice handed down, helping them understand better the complex decisions judges make.”

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Burnett of Maldon, said the move was “very positive” in promoting open justice.

He said: “I think it’s an exciting development because it will help the public to understand how and why criminals get the sentences that they do in these very high-profile cases.”

The footage will be broadcast on news channels and made available online through Sky News, BBC, ITN and the PA news agency (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Sentencing of serious criminal cases is something in which there is a legitimate public interest.

“And it’s always seemed to me that this is a part of the criminal process, which can be recorded and broadcast in many cases, but not all, without compromising the administration of justice or the interests of justice.”

The Central Criminal Court in London routinely hears some of the most complex cases, including murders and terrorism trials.

Judge Sarah Munro is expected to give the first televised sentencing at the Old Bailey (PA)

(PA Archive)

The sentencing of Oliver will take place from 10am in Court Two, one of the Old Bailey’s oldest courtrooms.

The 25-year-old defendant from Bexleyheath, south London, admitted the manslaughter of 74-year-old David Oliver, in Mottingham, south London, on January 19 last year.

Oliver was said to have Autistic Spectrum Disorder which, combined with other emotional and mental factors, diminished his responsibility for the killing.

Broadcasters hailed cameras in crown courts as a “landmark moment for open justice” and a “victory for the viewer”.

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