Ark Academy’s budding young legal eagles have emerged victorious from the local heats of the Citizenship Foundation’s Mock Trial competition.
The opening heats were held at Willesden Court and in the first trial we were up against Convent School. Acting as defence, Anithya Balachandran and Cullen Holas gave a sterling performance and, our defendant Jai Stewart, who was in court on a charge of handling stolen goods, was found not guilty by unanimous decision! In the second round we were up against Alperton, this time acting as the prosecution. Thanks to the formidable case put forward by our lawyers, Haider Moosa and Cullen, we secured a conviction, once again undisputed by all three magistrates.
Haider said: ‘I cross examined the defendant’s boss using closed questions and managed to catch him out. It was a good experience, it felt real and was a miniature version of tv court.’
He now aspires to become a barrister. ‘I like proving other people wrong, arguing a debate and enjoy public speaking.’
Amanda Nzekwue played the role of Legal Adviser to the magistrates, remaining neutral throughout and giving a speech she prepared about both sides of Jai’s case. ‘I put the pros and cons equally and also read out a victim statement.’
She feels this type of experience, and the debating enrichment club she attends after school, develops her confidence and self-esteem, along with her writing and speaking skills. ‘I like to put forward my views on things and I enjoyed meeting new people at the mock trial.’
Kassia Tavares said: ‘The fact we all knew each other benefited us and helped the entire piece, we flowed really well. ‘It was exciting to see who we were up against, we all seemed to be of the same quality.’
Ark Academy’s fellow contenders included Crest, Park High, Claremont, Alperton, Convent School and QE Boys.
Weeks of hard work had clearly paid off and the judges clearly recognised their efforts, and crowned them winners of the heat. The team were certainly not expecting to go home as victors.
Shivani Khatri explained: ‘We were so shocked and gobsmacked because it was our first time at the competition. When they said our name we screamed so loud – we didn’t think we would win overall because we only won one individual award and other schools won a few more than us.’
Year 9 student Iman Ahmadi Moghaddam was the youngest competitor and didn’t expect to win his award for Best Prosecution Witness, but said it felt ‘Wonderful’ to win and believed it was due to practice. ‘We rehearsed well and as witnesses we said every detail and were very specific.’
The judges’ criteria included following the rules of court well, conducting yourselves politely and quality of speech. The outcome of each case was not the only aspect being judged which the students thought was a fair decision and all agreed the content of the arguments should be the most important factor.
The regionals will take place on Saturday 10th May at the Lavender Hill Magistrates Court and our students will be ready for action. Jai declared, ‘We are all very excited for regionals and looking forward to competing again, we had a really fun day!’