A murder trial has been moved to another court as criminal courts across the country struggle with backlogs.

Eight men were on trial at Harrow Crown Court earlier this year charged in connection with the death of Luke O’Connell, 26.

The court has told the Watford Observer that the case will now be heard at Reading Crown Court.

It said: “The case has now been transferred to Reading Crown Court to be heard there.”

But no dates for the trial have been confirmed.

Reading Crown Court has been approached for more details.

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Mr O’Connell was stabbed following a three car crash in Gammons Lane, Watford, on August 31 last year.

The jury from the case earlier this year was discharged because the trial judge had been “self-isolating due to an existing underlying health condition”.

Hertfordshire Constabulary said earlier this year that there is set to be a re-trial later in the year.

Aamir Mustafa, 22, of no fixed address, Shahnavaz Azad, 27, of no fixed address, Umar Sarfraz, 21, of Whippendell Road, Watford, Mohammed Haroon Azad, 21, no fixed address, Mohammed Hamza Shah, 20 of Hagden Lane, Watford, Hamza Azad, 23, of Nicholas Close, Watford and Mohammed Hussnain, 24, of St. Georges Road, Watford have all been charged with murder.

Mohammed Raja Azad, 48, of Nicholas Close, Watford, has been charged with assisting an offender.

Court backlogs at 'crisis point'

Last week, Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd warned that the backlog of criminal cases awaiting crown court trial in Hertfordshire is now at "crisis point".

More than 700 of some of the most serious and complex crimes in the county are waiting to be tried at crown court, Mr Lloyd said at a meeting of the county council’s community safety and waste management cabinet panel last Wednesday (November 18).

And Mr Lloyd estimates the increasing backlog – resulting from court closures and continuing restrictions to halt the spread of Covid-19 – won’t be cleared until 2023.

Even before Covid restrictions were brought in Mr Lloyd says there were 654 outstanding crown court trials in Hertfordshire. But by October 25, he said that figure had risen “significantly” to 739.

Crime and justice consultancy Crest Advisory in October warned longstanding problems exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic could lead the justice system in England and Wales to the brink of “tipping point”.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) criticised the findings, saying they were based on “extreme assumptions that do not stand up to reasonable scrutiny” and that action was already being taken.