May 3, 2013
Ipswich: Interpreter could face prosecution after trial collapses
AN interpreter is under investigation following the collapse of a trial after it was said she coached an alleged grievous bodily harm victim during his evidence.
The Tamil translator was heard from around 25 feet away by one of the three defendants in the Ipswich Crown Court dock as Niruban Amirthalingham was about to resume his testimony.
The female interpreter could now face a possible charge of contempt of court or perverting the course of justice.
Discharging the jury Recorder Peter Wallis said the translator was not reliable and the trial, which was in its third day, could not continue.
The accused Kallyugan Nallathamby, 27, of St Osyth Road, Clacton, Karunanidhy Nallathamby, 33, of Ellis Road, Clacton, and Thamathash Theivendram, 38, of St Osyth Road, Clacton, were released on bail pending a possible retrial. They had all denied causing Mr Amirthalingham grievous bodily harm during an alleged attack in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich.
Recorder Wallis told the jury: “The translation received by the interpreter can not be relied upon. Therefore the evidence you have heard has been compromised.”
Crown Court trials are said to cost at least £3,000 a day.
The trial began to go wrong following its resumption after lunch on Tuesday.
Around five or ten minutes into the cross-examination of Mr Amirthalingham by Matthew Jewell, representing Karunanidhy Nallathamby, the barrister’s attention was drawn to his client wanting to speak with him.
Mr Jewell subsequently asked for an adjournment, and requested the jury, witness, and interpreter leave the court.
The barrister then told Recorder Wallis his client had heard the interpreter tell Mr Amirthalingham before the jury returned to court: “If you get a chance tell them they snatched the bar from you.”
At the time the interpreter had been standing next to Mr Amirthalingham, who was in the witness box in front of a microphone. Karunanidhy Nallathamby was in the dock wearing a hearing loop which is very sensitive to anything said in the courtroom.
The interpreter spoke in Tamil to Mr Amirthalingham, but no one else was said to have noticed anything untoward.
The case was adjourned while the digital recording was listened by the barristers and Karunanidhy Nallathamby.
Upon returning to the courtroom Mr Jewell said Nallathamby had pointed out the segment involved which was only partially audible, although the words “they snatched it from you” were heard.
The Crown brought its own interpreter to court yesterday to verify what was being alleged by Nallathamby.
Mr Jewell said: “He (the interpreter) translates it as ‘say it was snatched’.
Mr Jewell pointed out the court did not know what else may have previously been said between the interpreter and Mr Amirthalingham.
Recorder Wallis said on the face of things it was not merely contempt of court, it could be a case of perverting the course of justice.
Discussing what would happen to the trial interpreter prosecutor Mark Roochove said: “It’s for the prosecution authorities to determine.”
He added the matter was of “grave concern”.
The court heard a police officer was taking a statement from the female interpreter.