Judge holds court hearing in the cells after Tom Bell murder suspects refuse to leave custody

A district judge held a court case in police cells after two men accused of murder refused to go up to the courtroom.

Joseph Bennia, 28, and Scott Geoffrey Gocoul, 29, were waiting in holding cells at Doncaster Magistrates' Court and have been charged with the murder of 21-year-old boxer Tom Bell, who was shot dead in a pub.

When they refused to leave the holding area, it was decided that the charges would be read to them while they were still in the cells.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Nine people including journalists, lawyers, clerks and security guards were invited into the cell block for the unconventional hearing.

Doncaster Magistrates Court

Both defendants were brought separately 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 pleas were entered during the hearing, which lasted for five minutes.

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 while they waited for the two men to appear. Addressing the gallery, the judge 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 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.