A Penrith man accused of escaping from an open prison has appeared in front of a judge at Carlisle Crown Court.
Paul Nicholson, 31, faces one charge. This alleges that Nicholson escaped from custody — from an open prison in Lancashire — on June 24.
Nicholson appeared remotely over a video link at the crown court today.
However, Recorder Tony Hawks heard that no progress was possible — and no plea could be entered by the defendant — due to ongoing national action by defence barristers.
A solicitor had notified the court that their firm had been asked to represent Nicholson and had applied for Legal Aid. But prosecutor Gerard Rogerson, providing the judge with an update, said: “At present, because of difficulties over the bar strike situation, (legal) chambers are unable to allow instructions from counsel.
“I’m not sure where that takes us today. I imagine we are not in a position to take a plea from Mr Nicholson.”
Recorder Hawks observed that it was a serious allegation and that Nicholson should be represented by a barrister.
The case was adjourned to August 11 and Nicholson, previously of Penrith, was remanded in custody in the meantime.
Barristers are currently staging five-day blocks of action every other week, and are next due to walk out on Monday as they seek to gain improved pay and conditions.
They are not attending scheduled court hearings, nor are they accepting instructions on new cases which are coming through the criminal justice system.