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Road safety message highlighted at Ruthin mock trial


16 November 2022

A recent mock trial at Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin highlighted the importance of safety on the road for young people

On Friday, 11 November Sixth Form pupils at Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin experienced what it is like to be in court, with a mock trial that took place in the school’s main hall. The event took place to raise awareness of safety on the road.

The mock trial was organised by local Ruthin resident, and member of the North Wales Police and Crime Panel, Pat Astbury and the script of the ‘trial’ was put together by Jean Williams, who has many years’ experience of advising magistrates when cases come to court.

The key parts in the mock trial, such as witness, prosecutor, defence lawyer, defendant, and magistrates were all played by Ysgol Brynhyfryd students. They were supported by adult members of the local emergency services, including North Wales Police Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki, and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Wayne Jones, as well as Alun Humphries of the Crown Prosecution Service, and Magistrate Tony Gatley, who advised them on how their parts would play out in a real courtroom setting. PC Peter Doran of North Wales Police and Harvey Campbell, Fire Safety Watch Manager of North Wales Fire and Rescue service, were also on hand with student doctors and High Sheriff of Clwyd Zoe Henderson to give their own personal insights into the importance of road safety and the consequences of bad driving. 

The scenario was that of a fictional car crash that was supposed to have taken place at Nant-y-Garth in Ruthin, involving a car which overtook one vehicle and crashed into another. Each ‘driver’ involved in the crash appeared as a witness.

After hearing the testimony, the panel of students playing magistrates retired to consider a verdict, which was then read out to the court of fellow students. There was then a discussion about the merits of the case and punishment, as well as talks on how other criminal cases are brought to trial and the balance that needs to be found in when or whether to prosecute people for different types of crimes.

A key theme of the event was raising awareness about the need to drive safely among young people and Jo Alkir, whose daughter Olivia was a pupil at Ysgol Brynhyfryd and died in a car accident in June 2019 near Ruthin, was present to stress the importance of driving safely to the young people to avoid tragedies like Olivia’s.

Wayne Jones, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, commented: “Improving road safety is a key part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s plan for policing in North Wales. It’s an issue that is close to the Commissioner’s heart and, having had a cousin who attended the school and strong family links to Ruthin, he was pleased to see this mock trial take place at Ysgol Brynhyfryd. It was an honour for me personally to take part in the event and to give students a first-hand insight into how the judicial process works. My thanks go to Pat Astbury for organising the event, to Jo Alkir for her support, and to the school and its students for getting involved. They all did a fantastic job.”

Student Aled Lewis, 16, of Ruthin, said: “I have always had an interest in law, so this was a good opportunity to see how everything works and to see the types of careers available in the law and in the courtroom. I learnt a lot about courtroom etiquette and how the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether or not to prosecute a case.

“I think this sort of opportunity should be available in more places, not just in Ruthin. But it’s especially important for us to know the message of road safety locally given the tragedy that happened to Olivia Alkir.”

Student Elinor Griffith, 16, of Llandyrnog, commented: “I wanted to take part today to experience what a court is really like, as the things you might see on social media are not always the same. It was such a good experience to have professionals explaining what was happening and why, and the laws and regulations that are behind the legal system.

“I learnt how important it is for people on the road to follow these laws and what can happen if people don’t. I remember the tragedy that happened to Olivia Alkir well and it’s important to remember Olivia and what her family and friends have been through. It’s vital people understand how important it is to stay safe on the road and avoid similar tragedies.”

This week is road safety charity Brake’s national Road Safety Week (14-20 November).