A JUDGE has taken a swipe at the "creaking" justice system in this country following the dramatic collapse of a trial at Taunton Crown Court.

Judge David Ticehurst halted proceedings after the prosecution produced a number of documents the defence had not previously seen midway through the hearing.

He dismissed the jury today (Thursday) and ordered a retrial of Michael Doughty, 30, who was in the dock accused of three counts of sexual assault against a girl aged under 13, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

His decision follows a number of high-profile rape cases in other parts of the country being dismissed because vital evidence had not been provided by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service.

Judge Ticehurst banned any reporting of the details of the case against Mr Doughty, of Hill View, Mudford, near Yeovil, who was bailed ahead of a fresh trial.

But he made a point of criticising the current state of the justice system in this country.

He said that if he was a newspaper reporter his headline would read: "Yet another case collapses because the CPS fails to disclose documents."

His comment follows the trial of Liam Allan at Croydon Crown Court, which was abandoned after it emerged police failed to pass on text messages from his accuser that proved his innocence.

A number of other similar cases have led to thousands of current rape and serious sexual assault cases in England and Wales being reviewed to ensure evidence has been disclosed.

Judge Ticehurst, who said the problem could be attributed to budget cuts, added: "It is abundantly clear the criminal justice system is creaking - it's collapsing.

"Members of the public will cease to have any confidence in the justice system.

"It's falling apart and this is one of the consequences. I'm not blaming the CPS or the police."

Addressing the jury, he said: "Documents were made available to the defence yesterday (Wednesday) that hadn't been disclosed earlier. They might have had some impact on the trial and it would have been wrong to continue with the trial without the defence having seen the documents.

"I don't blame (prosecutor) Miss (Rachel) Drake or the officer in the case.

"There are not enough policemen around, not enough people in the CPS. Defence barristers are being paid less than they were 10 years ago and that's being reduced.

"The system is falling apart and this is one of the consequences. The defendant is to face a retrial and witnesses have to come back to court."