First televised sentence to make legal history at Old Bailey

The first televised punishment is to take place at the Old Bailey.

Sarah Monroe QC will make legal history on Thursday as she sentences Ben Oliver for the murder of her grandfather.

The footage will be broadcast on news channels and made available online through Sky News, the BBC, ITN and the PA news agency.


FW Pomeroy’s Statue of Justice atop the Central Criminal Court Building, Old Bailey, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The move to allow cameras in Crown Court follows a change in law in 2020, but implementation was delayed due to the pandemic.

It would open up some of the most high-profile courts and allow the public to see and hear the judges’ reasoning behind their sentencing.

Only the judge will be filmed to protect the privacy of the victims, witnesses and jurors.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Opening courtrooms to cameras to film the convictions of some of the country’s most serious criminals will improve transparency and strengthen confidence in the justice system.


Inside Court No. 1 at the Old Bailey in London (Stephen Russo/PA)

“The public will now be able to see justice being done, which will help them better understand the complex decisions taken by judges.”

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Burnett of Maldon, said the move was “very positive” in promoting open justice.

He said: “I think this is an exciting development because it will help the public understand how and why criminals get punished in these high-profile cases.”

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The footage will be broadcast on news channels and made available online through Sky News, BBC, ITN and the PA news agency (Stephen Russo/PA).

“Sentence of serious criminal cases is something in which there is a legitimate public interest.

“And it always seemed to me that this is a part of the criminal process, which can be recorded and disseminated in many cases, but not all, without compromising the administration of justice or the interests of justice.”

The Central Criminal Court in London regularly hears some of the most complex cases, including murder and terrorism trials.


Judge Sarah Monroe is expected to serve the first televised sentence at the Old Bailey (PA)

Oliver will be sentenced at 10 a.m. in Court Two, one of the oldest courtrooms in the Old Bailey.

The 25-year-old defendant from Bexleyheath, south London, admitted to the murder of 74-year-old David Oliver in Mottingham, south London, on January 19 last year.

Oliver is said to have had autistic spectrum disorder, which combined with other emotional and mental factors, reduced his responsibility for the murder.

Broadcasters hailed the cameras at Crown Court as a “historic moment for open justice” and a “victory for the audience”.