- By Aminah Hafiz
A man has slit his throat during sentencing at a UK Magistrates Court
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A man who cut his throat in the dock at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court is in a serious condition in hospital, police have said.
A man which we have chosen not to name, aged 33, was appearing for sentence at the Pembrokeshire court when the incident happened.
The male, living in the Pembroke Doc area, had pleaded guilty to sexual assault after grabbing and kissing a shop assistant.
The male was appearing at the court for sentencing. Magistrates’ Courts have very limited powers and cannot hand down lengthy sentences or large fines, they can however refer a case to the Crown Courts for sentencing should they deem they do not have sufficient powers.
The defendent was taken to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital by air ambulance.
An emergency call was made from the court at 10:20 GMT.
It is unclear where and how the defendant gained access to a weapon. The court complex has airport-style security scanners and guards in place at both entrances as do all court buildings.
It is understood the defendant lost consciousness, and also lost a large amount of blood in the incident.
A Western Telegraph reporter was in court and witnessed the incident.
The journalist said: “The defendant was in the dock for a sentencing hearing when he attracted his solicitor’s attention to ask to be allowed to go to the toilet. He returned to the dock very quickly, remained standing then muttered something through the glass. Suddenly everyone in the courtroom turned as he made stabbing motions at his neck. I couldn’t see what he had in his hand, but he made several frantic jabs at his throat. The alarm was raised and the clerk rang the emergency services while court staff rushed in to administer first aid. It all happened so quickly, the paramedics and police were on the scene really quickly and treated him in the dock as the court was sealed off. It was a surreal situation, and I think everyone was quite shaken, but the court staff were very supportive and professional throughout.”
Dyfed-Powys Heddlu (Police) said the defendant was receiving treatment from paramedics when officers arrived and was taken to Morriston Hospital, adding: “The court has been closed in order for inquiries to take place. Police are not looking to speak to anyone else in connection with this incident at this time.”
An HM Courts and Tribunal spokesman said: “There were no injuries to staff or other court users. There is an ongoing police investigation so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb tweeted his concern at the events, saying: “Disturbing news. No one should be in a position to harm themselves or others in a court room.”
Mid and West Wales AM Simon Thomas has written to the Ministry of Justice asking what steps the UK’s central government is taking to improve safety in courts.
“I find it astonishing that a defendant at a secure court could get access to a potentially lethal weapon. This severe lapse in security could have led to a loss of his life and endangered others in the court.”
It is thought that the defendant will now face significantly longer and harsher sentencing following the incident.
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