A JUDGE has criticised the Crown Prosecution Service after being told a 14-year-old boy had spent three months in custody awaiting a court hearing.

Judge Douglas Field said they needed to improve their performance after hearing the evidence in the case had only been served on the child’s lawyers the day before.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been in custody since late October after taking part in two burglaries, Swindon Crown Court was told.

He first appeared before a judge in November and the matter was adjourned to January 2, but the CPS failed to produce the committal papers in time.

Without them, the youngster’s lawyers would not know the case against the child and so would not be able to properly advise him.

On that day Judge Field put the case off for more than three weeks to give prosecutors time to serve their case, but even then it only arrived the day before the hearing.

Tara Wolfe, for the boy, said: “He has been in custody since October 26 last year. We only received committal papers yesterday.

“He has not been granted bail because an appropriate address could not be found for him.”

After he admitted what he had done she asked for his case to be remitted for sentence in the youth court in Berkshire, where he is from.

The judge agreed and returned him to custody – he is being housed in secure accommodation in Hampshire, awaiting that hearing.

The teenager, who is accused alongside an adult, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary on Saturday October 26 last year.

He admitted being involved in a break in with intent to steal at a house on Swallowfield Avenue, Walcot, and stealing cash in a raid on a house on Drove Road.

The court was told that the paperwork, which is now compiled at the CPS offices in Eastleigh, near Southampton, should have been served a month ago.

Judge Douglas Field said: “The Crown Prosecution Service at Eastleigh should have made extra efforts to get these papers served on time.

“I am told the co-defendant’s solicitors only got their papers yesterday, which is unacceptable. I continue to be in contact with the Crown Prosecution Service to get them to improve their performance.”

James Connors, 31, of Nails-worth, Gloucestershire, faces the same charges and has yet to enter any pleas.

He was released on bail to stay out of Swindon and his case was adjourned to Friday February 14.