Judge vents frustration as trial over stabbing of 16-year-old in Sheffield is delayed yet again

A judge vented his anger after a Sheffield stabbing trial was delayed another five months because of a slip-up by the defence team.

Friday, 10th December 2021, 4:13 pm

Bilal Baz, of Kirton Road, Pitsmoor, was arrested in November 2019 after a teenage boy was stabbed on Firshill Crescent.

The 26-year-old, who was charged with wounding with intent, has now been in police custody for over two years waiting for his trial date set for January.

But at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday (December 10), a judge vented his frustration after he was forced to delay the case for another five months after the defence team failed to get a crucial report in order.

Judge Jeremy Richardson branded the latest delay in a stabbing trial being held at Sheffield Crown Court 'completely unacceptable'

Recorder of Sheffield His Honour Judge Jeremy Richardson told the court it was “completely unacceptable” after defence barrister Frances Hertzog said they had failed to ensure a future trial report (FTR), which requires working with police on the case, was prepared in time.

"I have regular meetings with senior police officers. Detectives at South Yorkshire Police are understaffed,” said the judge.

"Very senior and very good officers are overworked because there are not enough of them.

"You cannot expect detectives in a case of this kind to just drop everything and sort this problem.

"And that’s why I’m angry. It’s not the police or the court, it’s everybody else.

"It’s completely unacceptable, and the word needs to go out.”

Statistics published in September showed there were 60,692 outstanding crown court cases at the end of June in England. One in five cases are outstanding for more than a year, with some recent cases only having their day at court four years after proceedings began.

Judge Richardson further set out a warning to Sheffield’s legal teams, saying: “I’m getting annoyed with getting FTRs which are ineffective.

"To use an aviation analogy, if the doors are not shut and the seatbelts aren’t on you cannot take off, and you’re back to the runway or, worse, the hangar.”

Judge Richardson apologised to Bal, who was seated in court, and told him his trial would have to be heard in May instead of January. He was remanded into custody.

By the time of the trial, the 26-year-old will have been in custody for 32 months, over the entirety of the Covid-19 pandemic.