Barista Barrister confusion: guest post by Geoffery Birch

I am delighted to bring you a little vignette from Geoffery Birch, one of the South Eastern Circuit’s best advocates, who tells a very good  story about a theft case he did in Welwyn Garden City a year or two ago. 

It was one of countless that seem to have characterised my life at the Bar –  that occurred during the course of a case that I was defending a few years ago. The Defendant was charged with Theft of a couple of days takings from a safe at the coffee bar where was working. The coffee bar was at the Herts. Police Headquarters, W.G.C. of all places to commit a crime.

I called him to give evidence; and it went something like this:-

Q.   Would you please give the Court your full name.

A.   David, Kyle Matthews

Q.   And your occupation as at the 12th June, 2001

A.   Barrista

Q    No Mr. Matthews, not my occupation; I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear – your occupation

A    Barrista

Q… A Barrister?

A   I was working as a Barrista at Costas at the Police Headquarters.

(Birch now getting somewhat confused, never having heard the term that describes a maker of coffee, and with no-one in Court coming to my rescue)

Q  (Birch, looking hard at the Defendant’s proof of evidence for some evidence of this claim, and now on the verge of irritation)  But isn’t it right Mr. Matthews, that on the 12th of June this year you were employed at the Costa coffee bar at the Police Headquarters making and serving coffee?

A  Yes, as a Barrista.

Q.  Was this part-time employment, away from the Bar?

A.  No, Full-time.

Q.  It may be entirely my fault Mr. Matthews, but I didn’t appreciate that you were a qualified Barrister whilst working at the coffee bar. When were you called to the Bar?

A   They train you to do the work when they take you on

Q.  Legal Training?

A   No, to make coffee and become a Barrista.

Q.  They then call you a Barrister?

Judge:  How do you spell that Mr. Matthews?

A. Barrista

Judge: not Barrister?

A   No sir.

Someone, I was too embarrassed to look, then pronounced it correctly.

The case continued, after I had pulled myself together!



Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

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