SCHOOLCHILDREN are to be put in the dock and grilled by lawyers over their involvement in a drunken assault on an old man.

But the pupils from three South Lakeland secondary schools will not be facing a stretch behind bars even if they are convicted.

The 120 teenagers will take part in a mock trial at South Lakeland Magistrates’ Court on May 2 designed to bring home the realities of alcohol-fuelled crime and the impact that a criminal record can have on their lives.

The trial is based on a real-life assault case, when three drunken youths, aged 19 and 20, attack an elderly man on a night out.

It will feature input from real solicitors and magistrates to add authenticity and the pupils, from Cartmel, John Ruskin, Cartmel, and Sedbergh’s Settlebeck schools, will take on key roles.

The event is being organised by South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC) Policy and Partnership Team and Inspira, the national social enterprise company based in Cumbria.

Chris Holland, a magistrate and SLDC councillor for Burneside, came up with the idea of staging an event to help tackle the dangers of excessive drinking by young people.

“As a magistrate I often hear first hand the consequences of that ‘moment of madness’ and have asked young people in court whether they think they would be in court if it wasn’t for the alcohol,” he said.

“Drink takes away inhibitions and that can lead to violence. One punch can cause serious injury or even a fatality.

“These actions can have serious and sometimes tragic consequences and as we hope to show it can have a dramatic impact on their lives, careers and future prospects.

“We hope this event will raise awareness of the effects of excess alcohol and will help promote responsible drinking.’’ Simon Blyth, policy and partnerships officer at SLDC, said: “This is the first time we have organised an event like this.

“Hopefully if it is successful and we get positive feedback it could become an annual event involving more schools in South Lakeland.”