The Bar Mock Trial is a national competition where students fight a criminal trial. Judges (who are real recorders, Circuit judges, High Court judges and Lords Justice of Appeal) decide who has given the best performance.

2,730 students took part from 182 schools, competing in 18 regional heats all over England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We won!

In the first case, Deniz Grey (played by Emily Short) has been accused of domestic violence on her partner, Vik Matthias. They were having one of their usual rows in the kitchen. Vik was very angry, and waved a knife at Deniz. Deniz grabbed her by the arms and pushed her to the ground. Somehow, some way, Vik broke her leg.

What Vik failed to mention to the police was that she had broken her leg in the same place 3 months ago while playing football, so this was really a re-fracture. Deniz argues that she reacted in self-defence because she really believed Vik was going to harm her. What’s strange is why, when Vik was writhing on the floor in agony with a broken tibia, Deniz carried on telling her to leave and even rang the police to tell them she was scared of her.

Emily batted this one away: “You know what these footballers are like; one minute they’re lying on the floor screaming, and 30 seconds later they’re up and about again. I assumed she was play-acting”.

The second case was about the Charalambous, an old couple who lived in the flat above the Simms. The Simms believed Georgie Charalambous was deliberately pouring foul pet waste down the drain, knowing that the drain was blocked and the waste backed up the drain onto the Simms’ balcony.

For the 5th time, the Simms went to see Georgie, who answered the door. Ashley Simms threatened Georgie, and had her foot in the door. Georgie threatened to call the police, and tried to close the door. According to Georgie, at that point, the Simms left and that was that. According to the Simms, Georgie produced a gun and pointed it at them. Who’s telling the truth?

Georgie does have an imitation gun, which she keeps in a cabinet, and she was fed up with being pestered by the Simms about something the council should be dealing with. However, the Simms could have made the whole thing up: maybe Ashley realised she’d gone too far, harassing the Charalambous, and so she accused Georgie of pointing a gun in order to avoid getting into trouble herself. Who knows: maybe Georgie might even get evicted, which would suit the Simms down to the ground!

With only 7 members, we were the smallest team in the competition. Evie Smith played three barristers’ roles; both Juliet Cook and Emily Short doubled as witnesses (a nosy neighbour and an angry event assistant) , barristers, a clerk and an usher; Amelia McDonald played two barristers; Sophie Lawlor played a witnesses (a belligerent office manager), a barrister and a clerk; the irrepressible Ella Sankey played three witnesses (a wounded footballer, a fitness instructor who’s scared of dogs and an old lady who owns a gun) and an usher, and Charlie Keller played two witnesses (a gooseberry on Valentine’s day and an old man who lives through his dog, Bouncer and his parrot, Captain Jack).

The competition was fierce. We really weren’t expecting to get through to the head-to-head between the two highest scoring teams. It therefore came as a shock; we were prosecuting King Edward VI (Handsworth), a leading grammar school which has won the competition in the past.

We nudged ahead of them comfortably. Our cross- examinations were clever, focused and didn’t allow the witnesses an inch of manoeuvre; our speeches were well argued and beautifully pitched, holding the jury’s interest even during the ‘boring’ legal bits.

Our witnesses had anticipated every question and had retorts ready for everything that was fired at them.
Lord Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench, head of Criminal Justice and chair of the Leveson Inquiry into British press practices, handed out the prizes. He complimented us on our technique and excellent delivery.

This is the 5th year in a row that we’ve got through to the National Finals; a record no other school can beat. Last year we came 3rd out of 232 teams; the year before we came 2nd out of 209.

We celebrated with vast amounts of chocolate on the train home. What a day. Many thanks to Bott + Co for their support during the past year.