Bailiff Buster fails in bid to beat obstruction charge and must now stand trial
Wednesday 1st March 2017 17:58 News Posted by Nigel P.

Chris Morris following his decision to elect trial after pleading “not guilty” to charges relating to the eviction of Miss Rekha Patel from her Simmondley cottage which they claim was an illegal act. The pair are pictured outside Tameside Magistrates Court following lengthy legal arguments to have the charge withdrawn

A man who was arrested after turning up at the house of Rekha Patel to support her against bailiffs evicting her appeared at Tameside Magistrates court today 1/3/17.

He was accused of ‘Intentionally obstructing a high court officer engaged in executing a writ issued by the high court.’ during Miss Patel’s eviction from her Simmondley home.

42-year-old, Boxing coach, Chris Morris from Maldon in Essex, read about the situation facing Rekha Patel  on the internet and travelled 200 miles north to assist her in her battle to retain her home.

He was arrested by police, as bailiffs attempted to move on the property today he appeared at Tameside Magistrates and attempted at length to have the charge against thrown out of court on legal technicalities.

Mr Morris claimed that the  charges were not properly served to a correct address and within a six month period.

However District Judge, D.J. Saunders while listening to Mr Morris’s arguments patiently, ruled that Mr Morris had been notified correctly and within the time limit.

Mr Morris insisted that the summonses had been sent to an address he had never lived at in his home town.

Judge Saunders said:  “It looks to me that you have been served  you are certainly here so on that we can proceed.”

“How did you know you had to be here if you were not served?

Mr Morris replied: “I phoned the police to double check.”

When it became clear he had exhausted that line of approach, Mr Morris sought to question the rectitude of the charge, by explaining that he believed the grounds of the writ which the bailiffs had sought to execute was only legal in relation to trespassers and commonly used against squatters.

As he was on Miss Patel’s property with her permission, then he was not a trespasser and the charge against him was wrong in law, “none of us were trespassers” he said:

The judge countered that this does not concern this court, “The two issues we have to concern ourselves with are – was the person you obstructed  appointed by the High Court and was he engaged with enforcing a writ issued by a high court?”

Mr Morris argued that the writ was not correct, it was not drafted properly-“That document is not what it should be therefore it should be considered a fraudulent instrument”

He argued that under Criminal Law Act 1977 section 10 somebody acting under a false writ could not be recognised as a legitimate court officer and therefore according to the act ‘In any proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that he believed that the person he was resisting or obstructing was not an officer of a court.

 

The scene at Hannover cottage last summer as bailiffs broke in the property to evict Rheka Patel, as no less than 21 police officers looked on. It was at this incident that Chris Morris was arrested for obstructing a high court officer.

The judge replied: “It is not this court’s job to go behind the writ to see if it is correct. It appears to be from Oxford High Court all they(Enforcement Officers) have to prove is that it is issued by the high court.”

Mr Morris asked “Even if that document was fraudulent ?

The Judge stated to Mr Morris “We need to do this and if you are to plead not guilty we need to set down some trial issues.”

“Whether or not he was a court enforcement officer?

Mr Morris “Even if he was not a proper and fit person?”

The judge said “Thats not the question he was either an officer or he wasn’t”

Mr Morris “I would say not”

The Judge said: “Then that is one issue. Was he engaged in executing a writ from the High Court?”

These were the two issues that the Judge explained to Mr Morris were there to be challenged in a not guilty plea.

The Judge urged that Mr Morris named his witnesses and if relying on video evidence from mobile phones, the footage was made available to the court in DVD form within 28 days.

He told Morris “If you want witnesses to attend on your behalf you will have to arrange for them to attend

and I do not want them all saying the same thing I have to balance justice with the courts valuable time.”

On the point of Police body cameras Mr Morris was told that if the Crown Prosecution decided he can have the footage it will be available to him but he was not entitled by right.

A court date was suggested for a two day trial on May 16 and 17 to allow all the witnesses to be notified.

Then Mr Morris asked if he could appear from any court in Essex by video link to avoid the expense of travelling and staying over for two days. The judge replied: “No I think you need to be here”

“But I am happy for your witnesses to appear via live link, you will not get an enjoyable court experience (If you are not here) ” I do not think I am  going to enjoy the court experience Sir”

“You Will” said the Judge