Case postponed twice because court didn’t organise Spanish interpreter
A south London court’s failure to organise interpreters for a Spanish-speaking defendant has twice postponed a case, prolonging the agony for the victim and his family.
Dulwich man Thomas Goodman, 30, was left with long-term brain injuries after a roadside incident on Grove Hill Road, East Dulwich, December 8, 2021.
Spanish-speaking defendant Oscar Rodriguez Andrade, 27, was due to stand trial on a charge of ‘failing to stop after a road accident’ on Monday, August 15.
Mr Goodman’s partner Finola Jordan, who was due to give evidence, said: “It’s frustrating because you take the time out of your day.
“Tom is really annoyed. Nothing surprises me anymore – we hear stories like this everyday. There’s definitely incompetence across the board.”
Mr Goodman’s family had gathered at Croydon Magistrates Court to hear the case scheduled for 10am.
But at 12.45pm, almost three hours after the hearing was meant to start, the family was told no Spanish-speaking interpreter had been organised. The case has now been adjourned for September 23.
Shockingly, the same thing happened at the case’s plea hearing on June 23, which was postponed until June 30.
The case relates to an incident that put Mr Goodman in King’s College Hospital’s Major Trauma Centre for two weeks as he was treated for a brain bleed.
According to Crown Prosecution Service guidance, it is the court’s responsibility to organise independent interpreters for defendants.
A spokesperson for the Met Police agreed that police don’t organise interpreters and that it’s the court’s responsibility.
An officer at South London Magistrates Courts said: “I am unable to give you a specific reason as to why an interpreter wasn’t arranged on both occasions but more often than not we book them but the agency that we use are unable to provide.”
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a public body that advises government on migration, has previously highlighted a shortage of interpreters.
In September 2020, it said ‘interpreter’ should be added to the Shortage Occupation List, which would make it easier for foreign interpreters to obtain skilled work visas. As of August, ‘interpreter’ is not on the Shortage Occupation List.
The MAC has blamed the end of free movement following Brexit and a lack of foreign language skills in the domestic labour market for the shortage.
UK courts are also struggling with a severe case backlog. There were 73,000 outstanding Magistrates Court cases in London at the end of March.
Covid-19, underinvestment in the justice system and a lack of junior barristers practising exclusively in crime have all been blamed for the backlog.
Mr Goodman’s family have been critical of the police investigation into the incident.
They say they have had to lead the police to evidence and been given conflicting information about how the alleged crime was first reported.
The police has said it is unable to comment as proceedings are ongoing.