Saturday 18 November, a group of St Peter’s students represented the school in the Regional Heat of the Bar Mock Trial Competition, organised by the Citizenship Foundation. In a Bar Mock Trial, school teams of young people aged 15-18 take on various courtroom roles and try to win their cases in front of a real judge.
The members of the Bar Mock team that represented St Peter’s School on the day included: Chloe Cain, Bronson Carrasco, Erin Farwell, Charlie Hayes, Miah Herford, Christina Hogan, Kevin Johny, Connor Love, Beatrice Lu, James McGeehan, James Morrison and Lily Sawyer. As a team, we learnt the roles of prosecution barristers, defence barristers, victims, defendants and witnesses. We worked on two cases: R v Grey and R v Marshall. Grey is about an allegation of Grievous Bodily Harm, while Marshall is about fraud and the theft of a debit card.
There were four teams within St Peter’s. We had prosecution and defence teams, from both cases, who practiced against each other before the competition. The first time we met the opponent schools on the other side of the cases was on the day.
Friday 17 November St Peter’s Bar Mock Trial team set off at 13:00 to Oxford by minibus. A few hours later we arrived at our hotel, the very appropriately named Jurys Inn. After we had found our rooms and settled in, we enjoyed dinner together at the hotel’s restaurant, Marco Pierre White. Then we went for a stroll around the town centre to see the Christmas market and the famous Bodleian Library.
The next morning was the day of our Regional Heat Competition, a day we have been working towards since March. As a squad we have persistently been attending meetings every Thursday after school and Saturday morning for months. We are very lucky to have been coached by Mr Herford and mentored by professional barrister Rob Griffiths.
It was a nerve-racking day for everyone. The barristers had to perform their devised speeches in front of a jury and cross-examine opposing witnesses. As for our witnesses, they had to keep in character and stand up to their opposing barristers. All this took place in the Oxford Crown Court before the presence of a bona fide judge.
The Bar Mock team were exceptional in every round. The competition was intense but the St Peter’s spirit kept us strong. After the judges had added up their scores from their observations, we were thrilled to hear the announcement that after all three rounds we had made it into the top two schools out of eight! This meant we were through to the Final Round.
We were told that we lost the finals by a small margin. This news absolutely devastated us, we left feeling infuriated and torn. We watched the shield (that we felt we deserved) handed to the other school. We couldn’t help but keep discussing that something must have gone wrong, something just didn’t add up…
Almost a week later, after most of us had accepted the news, we were summoned for a meeting. We expected it to be about planning our next steps for the Trial team. But Mr Herford had some big news for us instead. We won the regional competition! The whole room erupted with joy. The judge had in fact mixed up the schools on the score sheet. We were relieved and grateful that justice had prevailed, although it would have been so much better to have been granted those special moments of victory on the day.
As a result of the win at the Regionals the St Peter’s Bar Mock Team will compete at the Bar Mock Trial National Final in Cardiff on 24 March 2018. Thereafter, the team will apply to the Empire Mock Trial World Championships in New York.
The experience as a whole has been challenging, exceedingly rewarding, emotional and ultimately unforgettable. Special thanks must go to Mr Griffiths who dedicated his free time to our cause by answering all of our legal queries and continually offering us valuable advice. We would also like to express a special thanks to Mr Herford, who has supported us from start to finish. Without his belief in us we would have never had the opportunity to participate in something so special. Furthermore, without Mr Herford’s insistence to gain access to the scoresheet, we would have never known the taste of victory.
Beatrice Lu, Year 11