The trial of Bharat Patel, a 37-year-old, family man and businessman who allegedly assaults 13-year-old Adam, for stealing from his shop, is the scenario 16 St Mary’s law students played out recently. The complex assault case involved witnesses with many different perspectives, vested interests and possible racial prejudices. It allowed students to demonstrate their acting skills but also build advocacy and mooting techniques which are vital skills in the legal profession.
Alongside academic staff from the Law Programme was senior circuit judge, Peter Lodder QC. Judge Lodder spared two dancers jail in February 2017, after they were found guilty of blackmailing rugby star, Danny Cipriani. Judge Lodder said the courtroom is a “microcosm” of what happens in society.
He also acknowledged how far the profession had come to tackle diversity, “When I came to the bar it was completely full of white middle class middle-aged men. It is great to see such a preponderance of people from different backgrounds.”
Jenny Henry, Programme Director for Law, commented, “We are delighted to have such an experienced and accomplished member of the judiciary lending his time to our programme. Judge Lodder’s support is invaluable for our students.
“Mock trials sound like fun, which they are, but they are really important to learn how cases are tried and to experience it from different perspectives. This will help build the professional skills our students need to give them the cutting edge in future employment.’’
St Mary’s student, Pauline Maburutse, added, “The mock trial was more of a challenge than l anticipated. l enjoyed preparation beforehand and trying to defend someone who hypothetically could have gone to prison.
“The mock trial has already been a helpful to my ability to speak eloquently, with conviction in a calm manner. My friend and l won a St Mary's Mooting Competition and l owe Judge Lodder a massive thank you for his help and guidance, especially the questioning which was scary but taught me the value of knowing every detail of a case and composure when l have to defend a point.
“My ultimate goal is to work for an international non-governmental organisation in policy and advocacy on matters such gender equality and children's welfare.”
Peter Lodder was appointed as a Senior Circuit Judge in January 2015. As the Recorder of Richmond Upon Thames he is Resident Judge at Kingston Crown Court. He was called to the Bar in 1981 and became a Queen's Counsel (took silk) in 2001. He was appointed as an Assistant Recorder in 1997 and as a Recorder in 2000. He was Chair of the Criminal Bar Association in 2008/9 and Chairman of the Bar Council in 2011.