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Camera allowed to broadcast from British court for the first time

An otherwise routine murder trial made history in central London Thursday when a man convicted of killing his grandfather was sentenced to life in prison — as television cameras inside the Old Bailey courtroom covered a proceeding for the first time.

Judge Sarah Munro issued the sentence for 25-year-old Ben Oliver and called him “a significant risk to the public.”

The broadcast was carried on multiple channels and was available online through Sky News, the BBC and ITN.

A law to allow cameras at criminal trials in England and Wales was enacted in 2020, but implementation was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government’s decision to allow courtroom cameras was hailed by British broadcasters as a “landmark moment for open justice” and a victory for viewers.

Specifically, the law allows only the judge to appear on camera, a measure intended to protect the privacy of witnesses, victims and jurors.

In Thursday’s ruling, the judge said she weighed several aggravating and mitigating factors that justified the life sentence, of which Oliver must serve at least 10 years. He’s been in custody for more than 16 months.

Oliver admitted to a charge of manslaughter in the death of his grandfather, 74-year-old David Oliver, in southeast London in January 2021.

The judge described the killing in detail, saying that Oliver attacked the older man with a kitchen knife and had been “irreparably damaged” by a dysfunctional upbringing. Ben Oliver is autistic.

When he was 15, Oliver was sentenced to three years in youth detention after he sexually assaulted a young girl in 2016. He was released in 2019. UPI

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