Judge moves hearing to cells after men accused of murdering Doncaster boxer refuse to attend court

Two men accused of murdering a talented Doncaster boxer refused to attend a court hearing today prompting a district judge to move proceedings to the cells.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 1:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 1:58 pm
Doncaster Magistrates' Court

Joseph Bennia, 28, and Scott Geoffrey Gocoul, 29, were being held in custody for a first appearance at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court today accused of the murder of boxer Tom Bell. 

Bennia and Gocoul, both of no fixed abode, refused to leave the cell area for their hearing prompting a district judge to relocate the courtroom.

Doncaster Magistrates' Court

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Three members of the press were escorted down almost 50 stairs to a tiny room in a cell block ready for the court hearing to be conducted as normal.

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Nine people including the press, prosecutor Rachel Baldwin, defence counsel, a district judge, court clerk and security crammed inside the cell to witness the hearing.

Both defendants were one by one brought to the entrance of the cell by security to have the charge read to them and to hear the prosecution opening.

The pair spoke only to confirm their names, ages and addresses.

No plea was entered during the hearing which lasted for five minutes in total.

District judge Joanne Hirst said: "The transparency of justice is absolutely paramount. I've had to relocate the courtroom down here because I understand you have refused to come out of the cell area.

"This case cannot be dealt with in your absence."

Members of the victim’s family were visibly emotional in the packed-out public gallery during the original hearing which was later relocated.

The district judge previously addressed the public gallery, she said: "I understand this is a very emotive case, I don't want any outbursts or disturbances in my court.

"It will be a very brief hearing today. Try to contain yourselves and remain quiet and respectful throughout the hearing."

Tom Bell, aged 21, was shot dead at the Maple Tree Pub on Plantation Road, Balby, at around 8:45pm last Thursday, January 17.

The popular boxer from Intake was given emergency first aid at the scene before being rushed to hospital but could not be saved.

A post-mortem examination revealed he died of shotgun wounds to his chest and abdomen. 

The two men have now been remanded in custody and will next appear at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday, January 25.