Norwich pupils involved in mock trial at court

Youngsters have been getting to grips with the serious issue of domestic violence in a mock trial competition.

The 12- to 14-year-olds took on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff to participate in the 17th annual Magistrate's Court Mock Trial competition.

Teams from four of Norfolk's schools took part in the day at Norwich Magistrates' Court, including the Open Academy, in Heartsease; Springwood High School in King's Lynn; the Thetford Academy; and Wymondham College, which won the day and goes through to the regional final.

This year's case dealt with domestic violence with teams competing against other schools in the setting of a real courtroom, taking on the roles of both prosecution and defence. Their performance was judged by real magistrates and legal professionals.

Sue Cant, from the Open Academy, who has also been a magistrate for five years, said: 'They have taken on the parts and they have understand that domestic violence is serious because the case is about two siblings.

'I think they recognise that these things do happen and it makes them aware of the types of thing that magistrates have to deal with and what goes on in society.

'They have learnt a lot about the law and their confidence has really grown. They have to think on their feet, to speak in front of people, and they have had an exciting time.'

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Open Academy pupil Lewis Pope, 13, from Heartsease, said: 'When we came down to see a real court case there was actually a domestic violence case on and it was interesting to see.

'I have done some public speaking before but this is very nerve-wracking and I have had to try to learn not to look down as much at my closing speech.'

The competition is organised by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates' Association, local magistrates and court staff. Funded by Her Majesty's Courts Service, the competition aims to give young people a real insight into how the legal system works.

The Evening News' Don't Suffer in Silence campaign aims to highlight the problem of domestic violence and the plight of thousands of victims.

Evening News reporters have been covering the cases of abusers who appear before the courts to show that justice can be done.

Do you have a story to tell after escaping an abusive partner? Contact crime correspondent Ben Kendall on 01603 772423 or email