A 600-year-old courtroom has staged a trial for the first time in centuries.

Pupils from two primary schools took part in a mock trial at the historic Old Courthouse on St Peter’s Square in Ruthin involving a very modern offence – hate crime.

It was 1663 and Charles II was on the throne the last time judges heard a case in the Grade II star-listed building – which dates back to 1401 after Owain Glyndwr burnt down its predecessor.

But this time there was no need for the gibbet which was once attached to the corner of the building even though the jury drawn from Year Six pupils of Ysgol Borthyn in Ruthin and Ysgol Bro Famau, Llanferres, delivered guilty verdicts in two cases.

They had the thumbs-up for their efforts from North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who spent three years as the sergeant in charge of Ruthin Police Station.

“This has been an excellent event and it’s clear from the interest and enthusiasm shown by the young people here that they have learned a great deal from the experience and really enjoyed themselves,” he said.

“Events like this are important as a learning experience for the pupils and also to give them an understanding of the role of the police in our society.“It is really vital that children know they can turn to a police officer if they need help and I’m confident that anyone of these children wouldn’thesitate to do so.It is also good to be back in Ruthin and to see this wonderful and historic old building being put to good use by the local community.”

The mock trials were the brainchild of Pat Astbury, from Ruthin, Chair of the North Wales a Police and Crime Panel, the body that oversees the role of the Commissioner.

They dealt with race hate and disability hate crimes in the context of a school setting and in each case all the parts, defendants, witnesses, prosecution and defence lawyers and judges were played by the pupils, including the jury which returned unanimous guilty verdicts in each case.

Mrs Astbury said: “It was wonderful to be able to use this historic venue – the children will be able to say they took part in the first trial to be held in the Old Courthouse for over 350 years.

“It’s been a real eye-opener for them and a lot of fun too and they and the staff have learned a great deal from the day about the issues which are dealt with in courts.

“It’s been a brilliant day but it wouldn’t have been able to take place without the support of Ruthin Rotary Club and the Town Council whose Mayor, Gavin Harris, has been instrumental in saving this historic building for the community.”

Eve Grant Head of Year Five at Ysgol Borthyn, said: “It has been an excellent experience and the pupils have really enjoyed taking part.“It has given them a good understanding of the processes of the courts system and how certain offences are dealt with.”

Ysgol Bro Famau parent-helper Llinos Davies said: “It was a fantastic experience for the children who were really excited about it. They’ve had a great time.“It was really valuable because it is something they would never otherwise get to experience and they have enjoyed the police side of it and have asked lots of questions.”

For more information on the work of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office go to https://www.northwales-pcc.gov.uk/en/home.aspx