Pupils have ‘their day in court’

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Pupils from Kemnay Academy took part in a court room drama of their own on Saturday, October 7.

Pupils representing five secondary schools made their case to be considered the area’s top budding legal eagles during the eighth Aberdeenshire ‘mock trials’ competition.

The youngsters became lawyers, witnesses, court staff and jurors – and even court reporters and press officers – as the schools competed against each other in simulated court cases.

They received tips and a verdict on their performance from legal professionals during the day-long event at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

The other schools that took part were Alford Academy, The Gordon Schools, Mackie Academy and Turriff Academy.

After three hard fought rounds the two teams which contested the final were Mackie A and Mackie B.

Effie Tillmouth, 18 a local DJ, was charged with possession of illegal drugs after a 70g block of cannabis resin was found in her wardrobe. Evidence was heard from two police officers, a forensic scientist, the accused and her step-mother. Miss Tillmouth successfully argued the drugs were not hers but belonged to a friend called Cleo. The jury found Miss Tillmouth not guilty.

Andrew Ritchie, Lead Officer for ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ (DYW), said: “The event has been running since 2010 and offers pupils a meaningful experience of the legal profession in line with our Developing the Young Workforce programme.

“Many pupils who have participated in this competition in the past have gone on to forge successful careers as solicitors or have studied law at university.

“As well as helping young people gain an understanding of the law, the mock trials develop a positive sense of civic duty and undoubtedly develops skills for learning life and work.

“I am therefore hopeful that the current cohort of students taking part will be part of the next generation of lawyers and judiciary in Scotland.

“I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who have made this event a real success over the years and hope the students have an enjoyable day in court finding out about how the justice system works.”

Cllr Gillian Owen, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, said: “This innovative initiative gives children and young people a real ‘hands on’ experience of finding out how the criminal justice system and courts in Aberdeenshire work.

“I am pleased that Aberdeenshire Council continues to take such an imaginative approach in helping those taking part learn really important life skills.

“The Council not only has a duty to provide children and young people with the best possible education but also to help them become responsible citizens, the mock trails competition achieves this aim in a really creative way.”

Cllr Mark Findlater, Committee Vice Chair, said: “The young people who took part in the mock trails competition participated in cases based on those which would routinely go before a court, so will receive the most realistic experience possible.

“Those taking part dealt with issues such as violence and drugs and will act out different roles that will give them a unique perspective of how each person involved in the court proceeding will be impacted by these issues.

“I hope the insights the young people will receive will stand them in good stead for their future study and careers.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s partners in the project include Maclay Murray and Spens LLP (soon to be Dentons), Aberdeen Bar Association, The Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, and Scottish Courts.