Published: 18:45, 15 April 2020
| Updated: 19:44, 15 April 2020
A judged remarked he fears 'an early grave' after technical problems hampered the hearing of a man accused of trying to kill his estranged partner in a Tonbridge nail bar.
Judge David Griffith-Jones QC expressed his frustration after he adjourned the case of Thuan Dinh who is accused of the attempted murder of Lien Dinh.
She was taken to hospital where her condition was said at the time to be serious but stable.
Her husband, who was arrested at the scene, was subsequently charged with attempted murder, possessing a knife in a public place, and breach of a restraining order.
Dinh appeared at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday for a plea and trial preparation hearing.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many court hearings in England and Wales are now taking place remotely and relying heavily on video and audio technology.
But despite repeated attempts by staff, the 51-year-old's Vietnamese interpreter was unable to hear Judge Griffith-Jones or either prosecution and defence counsel.
The judge therefore decided to bring the plea and trial preparation hearing to an end, asking his clerk to pass on his apology to the interpreter and Dinh.
"We just cannot go on like this," he said, before adding: "I am very sorry about this but I have to say I had grave reservations as to whether we would be able to operate in this way with an interpreter.
"I am afraid my reservations have come to fruition."
Apologising again at the end of the hearing for the technological problems, Judge Griffith-Jones, who is resident judge and honorary recorder of Maidstone, remarked: "I'm afraid I'm going to be going to an early grave, I fear, with all this."
Dinh appeared in the courtroom via video link from Elmley Prison in Sheppey, with his interpreter on the phone. The judge and barristers were present on Skype.
A trial was provisionally fixed to start in September, and is expected to last five days.
Dinh, of Rowan Mews, Tonbridge, will again appear at the same court next month when he is expected to enter his pleas to the charges.
Ben Temple, defending, told the court a psychiatric assessment would be carried out in the meantime.
He added that the only defence issue at trial was likely to be 'intent'.
Following the Covid-19 lockdown, Maidstone Crown Court became one of just 157 courts and tribunal centres out of 370 in England and Wales to be given 'priority' status and allowed to remain open, albeit with a heavily-reduced case load.
These also include London's Old Bailey, Snaresbrook, and The Court of Appeal.
A further 124 are termed 'staffed courts', supporting video and telephone hearings but closed to the public. The remainder are shut completely.
The Ministry of Justice said the temporary changes to court proceedings would 'help maintain a core justice system focused on the most essential cases' while ensuring effective social distancing.