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Cath Nelson, Diane Atkins and Hazel Guthrie welcome 80 Ladies to the Provincial meeting on 2nd May 2009.
On a sunny afternoon in May 80 ladies gathered at the Webbington Hotel for an enjoyable afternoon and evening. After lunchtime drinks in the bar or on the terrace the gentlemen retired for their Provincial Meeting, and the ladies, hosted by Catherine Nelson, took their places in the dining room where cups of tea and coffee were being served. Once settled in our seats, Hazel Guthrie introduced the speaker, Diane Atkins a Magistrate from Minehead. She told us how she came to be a JP and what the training and duties of this unpaid voluntary work consist of. She then explained the sentencing structure available in a magistrates’ court. This was in preparation for the task that she was about to set us. In groups of twos and threes we were given an Adult Short Case Study, a real case with names altered. The offence was Actual Bodily Harm which had happened on a bus while the offender was drunk. We were asked to decide what would be our sentence for this offence. After ascertaining that hanging was out of the question, some hot debates ensued. Some were in favour of a fine or conditional discharge, while others favoured six months in gaol. Finally we were told that the real offender had been given three months in custody, and it emerged that he had committed other similar offences. We all left the room with a greater understanding of the judicial system. It wasn’t long before our gentlemen re-appeared and after pre-dinner drinks we all went in to a splendid meal.
...Copy/picture, Heather Morrisey.