PUPILS from an Odiham school stepped up to the bar in a mock trial at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court.

Young legal eagles from Robert May’s School, in West Street, beat four teams from other north Hamp-shire schools at the regional heat for the 2014 Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial competition.

The competition, which allowed 12 to 14 year-olds to take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates, court staff and a defendant, aims to teach students about aspects of the criminal justice system.

The contest saw pupils from Robert May’s School, in Odiham, Westgate School, in Winchester, The Hurst Community College, in Baughurst, Yateley School, in Yateley, and Court Moor School, in Fleet, compete against each other for a place in the regional finals which will be held in Southampton on May 17.

The event run by the Citizenship Foundation, in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association, is now in its 20th year.

This year’s ‘trial’ involved a defendant who was accused of dishon-estly receiving a stolen bicycle.

Pupils taking part were briefed by local magistrates and other legal professionals who gave them information about the everyday workings of magistrates’ court. Each team of students were scored on how they presented the case in the courtroom.

Kathleen Wingfield, head of citizenship at Robert May’s School told The Gazette: “It went very well and it was brilliant that we won. It gives them a good insight into how it works.

“We can do things in class to let them know about the justice system, but to see it and practise it in action, gives them a greater understanding.”