Teesside court dock step halts disabled defendant's sentencing

Teesside Crown Court,
Image caption The disabled defendant was unable to be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough

A convicted man could not be sentenced because a court officer would not help him over a single step into the dock.

Court officials said they were unable to take Neil Trotter, 58, to the dock because he used a walking frame.

Trotter, who had made it to the second-floor Teesside Crown Court room, said he wanted to "get on with it".

But a dock officer told the judge it was not just the dock step that was the problem, but the flights of stairs leading to the cells.

It is unclear how the case had been able to progress to sentencing without the defendant's disabilities being taken into account, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Trotter had pleaded guilty to 14 charges relating to shoddy and unfinished building work and was ready to be sentenced at the court in Middlesbrough.

"If there's someone in front of me I'll be alright," he said from a chair at the back of the court.

But the dock officer said: "I'm refusing to take you on the grounds of safety."

The agreed solution was for Trotter, of Hackworth Close, Shildon, County Durham, to appear on Friday via a live video link from nearby Teesside Magistrates' Court.

An HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokeswoman said: "If a court is made aware of a defendant's immobility in advance, we will make sure necessary adjustments are made."

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