This year's debate took place at Anglia Ruskin University.
Gepp & Sons were delighted to welcome a host of distinguished members of our community including the Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford, the Lord Lieutenant Lord Petre, the High Sheriff Vincent Thompson, and the Chairman of Essex County Council Norman Hume.
In addition there were distinguished members of the legal profession, council and community organisations attending as guests. We were honoured to have David and Thomas Lyall, in-pensioners from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Colour Sergeant Chris Ferrett of the Royal Marines, and Staff Sergeant Andrew Gibson of the British Army.
Teams from Brentwood School, Brentwood Ursuline Convent School, Chelmsford County High School, Felsted, Great Baddow, King Edward VI Grammar, New Hall and Ormiston Rivers Academy, entered the debating arena to discuss the contentious topic of whether the legal age of criminal intent should be raised from 10 to 14.
The issue was fiercely contested by all participants before a highly esteemed panel of High Court and Crown Court judges comprising of The Right Hon. Lord Justice Burnett, His Honour Judge Gratwicke, Her Honour Judge Murfitt, Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith, His Honour Judge Lodge and Judge Advocate Elsom. All teams remained calm and collected in the face of probing questions from several of the judges.
At the conclusion of the First Round, the two schools deemed to offer the most persuasive arguments were Ormiston Rivers Academy and reigning champions Kind Edward VI Grammar School, who both progressed to the Final Round.
Our guest speakers included Amber Roswell, Trainee Solicitor for and on behalf of CORAM Children's Legal Centre, who gave an inspiring talk about her journey into law and her current work, and Helen Carter, Governor of HM Prison Chelmsford, who gave a fascinating insight into the criminal justice system.
In the Final Round, a plea in mitigation was heard by the two finalists whose objective was to try to obtain a lenient sentence for their ‘client’, a thirteen-year-old youth who had pleaded guilty to murder.
In response to a presentation by the ‘Crown Prosecution Service’, provided by Gepp & Sons’ Elizabeth Bradshaw, both teams put forward arguments as to why their client should face a prison sentence at the lower end of the sentencing guidelines.
The judges struggled to select the overall winner in what was a hotly contested final round. Ultimately, the result fell in King Edward VI Grammar School’s favour, meaning they retained custody of the coveted silver salver. ‘Best Speakers’ prizes were also awarded to Gemma Baldock from Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School and Feyisola Ayodeji from Felsted School .
We hope all participants have gained valuable insight into the judicial and court processes and enjoyed the experience of honing their mooting and presentation skills before the audience.
Pictured left to right: Anantika Sengupta, Tolu Akingbade, The Right Honourable Lord Justice Burnett, Jonathan Douglas Hughes OBE DL Senior Partner Gepp & Sons, Rohini Majumder and Carl Simela.