Clause 5

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 6:30 pm, 16th January 2007

I beg to move amendment No. 11, in clause 5, page 4, line 33, leave out subsections (5) and (6).

I raised this matter previously. The amendment provides that, where the court is not satisfied that a defendant is guilty of an offence that is being tried, but is satisfied that he is guilty of another offence of which a jury could have found him guilty after trial, the court may convict him of the other offence. My concern is that somebody who is tried without jury for a specific offence can be found not guilty of that offence but convicted by that same court, without a jury, of a completely separate offence. Is that correct? If the second offence is a similar one, it could be argued that it would waste a lot of court time to start the trial all over again, but if it is very different, should it not be considered in a different way and separately? I do not wish to drag this out. I have raised the matter before, and the Government came up with all sorts of explanations, but I should like to hear what the Minister has to say about why they group two offences together.