ANDY CARROLLVacated trials are the bane of court life. A date has been set, usually two or three months previously, paperwork is collated, witnesses have been warned and on the due date along with CPS prosecuting staff, defence lawyer[s], usher and three magistrates or a judge rostered for duty everything is set to go. But no! A last minute bit of plea bargaining and a guilty plea to the original or a lesser charge means that much time, money and effort by many people has been wasted. This is intolerable. And it is what has transpired earlier today at Newcastle Crown Court when Newcastle United first team footballer Andy Carroll changed his plea and pleaded guilty to common assault. He had been due to stand trial for assault occasioning actual bodily harm last December.

It should not be beyond the wit of man, even if that man were Kenneth Clarke, to offer proposals such that sanctions against such late decisions would reduce their propensity.