Chaos in court as Simmondley cottage obstruction accused’s case is adjourned
Thursday 17th August 2017 @ 14:56 by Nigel P.
Community Longdendale News

 

Rekha Patel pictured last year, in the cottage at Simmondley that she formerly owned

 

Proceedings at Stockport Magistrates’ Court were thrown into chaos, when two women appeared to face charges of obstruction relating to their eviction from a 17th century cottage at the centre of a possession dispute.

Rekha Patel, 43, and her co-accused, 48-year-old Cheryl Leezack, appeared at Stockport magistrates on Monday, August 14th, to face charges of ‘obstruction of an enforcement officer.’

The alleged offences occurred when Miss Patel, was evicted by bailiffs from a cottage in Simmondley, near Glossop that she formerly owned.

The cottage has been at the centre of a long running dispute between Ms Patel and her neighbour over damages to some stones adjoining her former cottage and that of the neighbour.

Ms Patel was originally evicted from the cottage in June 2016 following a County Court order, after she failed to pay a legal firm expenses for court action taken by the neighbour.

The neighbour was awarded damages of around £16,000 which were paid by Patel, but she disputed the additional legal charges which then led to enforcement officers taking possession of the cottage last year.

Miss Patel subsequently re-entered her cottage claiming her eviction was illegal. A series of civil actions leading to her second eviction in July this year up-held the original eviction action.

It was on the occasion of the second eviction, that the alleged offences with which Miss Patel and Leezack are charged, occurred.

The two accused were accompanied to the courtroom by four other people including a Mr Ken Thompson who said he would be acting as the defendant’s legal representative.

The defendants, their supporters and Mr Thompson all refused to stand for Chair of the Magistrates, Caroline Turner, upon her entrance to the court.

Mr Thompson encouraged the group not to do so stating: “Don’t’ stand up it gives them power over us”.

The court usher then attempted to present the defendants with the required legal documents.

However, the defendants insisted that the documents should be given to their “legal representative” Mr Thompson, rather than to themselves.

This was contrary to the instructions of the court clerk, but the two women refused to even touch the documents and Ms Leezack said: “(it is) dirty corrupt paperwork”.

The court usher eventually left the documents on the desk in front of the defendants.

Mr Thompson was then questioned about his status as the court became aware that he is not a licensed or qualified solicitor.

Despite his lack of legal qualifications Mr Thompson defended the right of his clients to choose their own representative.

He then went on to claim that the court had no jurisdiction over “these people” before any charges could be read out.

The defendants urged Mr Thompson to emphasise that they “are women rather than just people,” apparently in their belief that this distinction had a bearing on their case.

Chair of the Magistrates, Caroline Turner, repeatedly asked Mr Thompson to allow her to speak as he continued to question the court’s authority in an increasingly raised voice.

The court clerk and legal advisor warned Mr Thompson about his behaviour saying he was “being rude” but the court clerk’s warning seemed to fall on deaf ears and he continued to shout: “You have no jurisdiction”.

Throughout this exchange Ms Leezack labelled the legal professionals “incompetent” and repeatedly performed a ritual, apparently intended to ward off ‘evil spirits.’

Amidst the ongoing chaos the court clerk suggested that the case be adjourned until Friday, August 18th, which the increasingly exasperated magistrate agreed on.

The courtroom then erupted into pandemonium when Chair of the Magistrates, Caroline Turner attempted to read out this decision to the court.

Her statement that the case was adjourned was met with shouts of “case dismissed” from the defendants and their party.

The shouting continued and drowned out the attempts of the Magistrate to read the conditions of bail out to the court.

When a representative of the court left the room, this was celebrated with shouts off “another one has jumped ship” and one member of the defendant’s party called out that “no other cases should proceed as this one hadn’t been settled.”

The group’s disruptive behaviour and insistence on remaining in the public gallery eventually forced the courtroom to close, with other scheduled hearings having to move to other courtrooms.

The defendants and their party were then escorted out of the room by security officers, claiming to have dismissed themselves.

 

By Rebecca Cooley