‘Flower man of Islington’: Tony Eastlake murder trial set back two months

The family of Tony Eastlake have described him as a "very special man"

The family of Tony Eastlake have described him as a "very special man" - Credit: Met Police

The trial of a man charged with killing a well-known flower seller in Islington has been set back by two months as a result of the criminal barristers' strike.

James Peppiatt, 21, of Elmore Street, was due to go on trial yesterday - Monday, July 18 - accused of murdering his late mother's partner Tony Eastlake.

The 55-year-old, affectionately known to customers as the "flower man of Islington", was fatally stabbed close to his stall in Essex Road at about 5.30pm on May 29 last year.

It has since been decided that the ongoing strike action would be too disruptive for jury members sitting on a trial which is expected to last between two and three weeks.

Therefore, the matter is next listed for a hearing on September 15.

Barristers have walked out of courts around the country for a further five days, as industrial action enters a fourth week.

Next week strikes will be suspended for a week, from July 25, before recommencing between August 1 and August 5.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) then plans to strike on alternate weeks, with no end in sight, with the action to remain under review and subject to the government’s response.

On Friday - July 15 - Judge Mark Dennis QC admitted industrial action posed "uncertainty" for the trial of Mr Peppiatt, which could ultimately even lead to a halting of the trial and a future retrial.

"If we stop, that is undermining the whole process, which is not in the prosecution's interest or in the defendant's interest," he said.

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It is one of four cases, including three murder trials, that have been delayed this week at the Old Bailey as a result of the strike action.

The trial of five youths accused of murdering a 15-year-old outside Woolwich railway station has provisionally been put back to next week, as has the case of three people charged with killing aspiring lawyer Sven Badzak in Kilburn.

Criminal barristers from the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), outside the Old Bailey

Criminal barristers from the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents barristers in England and Wales, outside the Old Bailey, on the first of several days of court walkouts by CBA members in a row over legal aid funding - Credit: PA

The strike has seen lawyers gather at courts around the country as a dispute over pay and conditions rumbles on.

While the Ministry of Justice has said criminal barristers will receive a 15 per cent fee rise from the end of September, protestors believe the proposed £7,000 per year pay rise should take effect immediately.

The fact that this elevated rate will only apply to new cases, and not to those already sitting in a considerable backlog, has also prompted anger.

Last week the CBA accused the government of “refusing” to negotiate, warning that justice for both victims and defendants is at risk.

Justice ministers have urged the body to accept the “very generous” pay offer to “stop victims having to wait longer for justice”.