Judge orders TV presenter Anna Ryder Richardson into dock during hearing
TV presenter Anna Ryder Richardson was ordered into the dock by a judge who insisted he was not picking on her.
The celebrity interior designer and her husband Colin MacDougall, 46, attended Swansea Crown Court for a brief pre-trial review.
The couple stand trial at the same courthouse on November 12, each accused of two separate breaches of health and safety legislation.
Ryder Richardson, 48, turned her back on TV when she bought Manor House Wildlife Park in St Florence, near Tenby. An accident at the attraction in August 2010 saw a mother and her son, from Llanelli, airlifted to hospital. The couple were each charged with two separate alleged breaches to health and safety laws following an investigation. They deny all four charges.
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The company they run, Manor House Wildlife Park Ltd, has also denied committing two breaches to health and safety legislation.
They attended their hearing yesterday sitting behind their barrister on traditional leather benches at the city’s Guildhall courthouse.
Ben Compton, for Ryder Richardson, then asked judge Paul Thomas if they could stay put, and not sit in the dock, during the hearing. But he quickly learned that the judge had no intention of offering his clients special treatment.
He asked whether either one could be jailed if eventually found guilty, and was told that it was possible.
“My policy is that if there is a custodial element then the defendants must sit in the dock,” the judge said.
He added: “I would like to make it clear that I am in no way being unfair to them.”
The couple then stood and walked round into the dock and sat for the duration of the hearing in its raised wooden platform. The hearing went on to confirm that the November trial would be listed for three weeks. They were then released on unconditional bail until their trial date.
Before they left court the judge explained: “The reason I asked you to go into the dock is that you should not be treated differently from any other person.
“I am not picking on you.”