31 October 2016
Lost for words: Sentencing of Plymouth Czech slave gang delayed again due to interpreter no-show
Sentencing of a Czech slave gang has been delayed again after another failure in the criminal justice system – because no court interpreter was available.
The case had been adjourned from Friday when a transport shambles delayed one of the defendants getting to Plymouth from prison.
All five members of the gang were in court in good time this morning, but without a Czech interpreter to sit in the dock with them.
A court-appointed interpreter has helped the defendants through eight weeks of evidence at Plymouth Crown Court.
But a central national contract with one agency ended over the weekend which lowered payment rates – and the usual interpreter decided it was not worth her while to attend.
"From Friday to Monday there was a change of contracts. She (the interpreter) was not approved by the new contract company and the rates they were going to pay her were so meagre it was not worthwhile for her to attend."
Sentencing finally started more than two hours late when an interpreter used by a defence solicitor stood in at the last moment. She was given the judge's comments in advance so she could familiarise herself with the language.
Judge Lawrie will finally sentence them after hearing all mitigation from 2pm.
Defence solicitors and barristers have been using barristers to talk to the defendants. A separate set of interpreters has been translating the court proceedings.
One solicitor connected to the case said: "You actually could not make it up, could you?"
The prosecution has been blighted by problems with interpreters. The first trial had to be abandoned because an interpreter was not properly translating the evidence of witnesses.
Another interpreter was thrown off the case because he had his mobile phone in the dock. […]