Wales

From check-outs to court: The magistrate who stacks shelves

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Media captionFrom supermarket aisles to criminal trials

From the supermarket check-out to the court room - Luke Penney is not your average magistrate.

Neath-born Mr Penney, 22, works part-time at his local Tesco when he is not dealing with defendants at Swansea Magistrates' Court.

He applied for the role after a woman asked to put up a flyer in the store, recruiting magistrates.

One year into the job, he said he is a "completely different person" in court to when he is behind the tills.

Here he explains what it's like to be a young magistrate.

'My first case? Murder'

When I wake up on the morning of court, I'm Luke the magistrate - professional and independent. Integrity is a big part of the role.

I like the balance between a normal work life in the supermarket and court.

Image copyright Natalie Daniel Roberts
Image caption Luke works part-time in the kiosk at his local Tesco store

Being a magistrate is challenging, it does test you and your morals. It is just about following your gut instinct.

My first case on the job was murder where the suspect made their first appearance in court, before being sent to crown court to be dealt with.

It hit me that this responsibility given to society is huge, to keep everyone safe and to look out for the interests of justice.

Any case you do is challenging, no matter what court you go into.

At the end of the day, mentally, you have to leave your work at the court.

I'm still the normal Luke who gets home, goes on my phone or TV and does the things any other 22-year-old would.

Although it's tough, I'm in this for the long run and want to serve until I'm 70.

'I don't go telling people'

Image copyright Luke Penney
Image caption Luke says: "The job is challenging - it does test you and your morals"

Since being sworn in, my family are very proud, but I don't think that they know what it entails.

My friends didn't believe me at first and immediately asked how much I am paid. But the simple answer is I'm not, it is voluntary.

I don't go around saying "I'm a magistrate". I keep it personal and if they ask then I'll be open about the process.

Criminal court is open and I'd advise anyone to come in and see what we do to see if it's for them.

How do I become a magistrate?

  • Magistrates are volunteers in their community who hear cases in criminal and family courts
  • Potential applicants must be aged between 18 and 65, but don't need any formal qualifications or legal training
  • They must not have a conflict of interest, such as being a serving police officer
  • The Ministry of Justice for England and Wales look for people who are aware of social issues and are committed to their community.

You can find a full list of criteria for the job on the Ministry of Justice website.

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