October 22nd, 2016

Trial collapses after juror googles defendant

Trial collapses after juror googles defendant Trial collapses after juror googles defendant
Updated: 3:15 pm, May 07, 2015

A JUROR has caused a crown court trial to be abandoned after carrying out his own internet research into one of the defendant’s previous convictions.

Despite the warning issued to jurors in every trial not to look for information about their case online, Michael Clothier, from Leek Wootton, carried out a Google search.

He had been sitting as a juror at Warwick Crown Court in the three day trial of a young Coventry man who had denied blackmailing a teenager by demanding her phone from her with menaces.

The jury had heard all the evidence in the trial before being sent out to consider their verdict on Friday.

After being unable to reach a verdict before the end of the day, they were sent away for the weekend to resume their consideration of the case on Monday.

But after they had done so, 63 year-old Clothier revealed to fellow jurors details he had found on the internet about a previous conviction of the defendant.

Aware of the warning they had been given not to carry out such research, other jurors raised the matter.

The judge was informed about what had happened, and after discussing the matter with the barristers the jury was brought back into court.

And when Recorder David Herbert QC asked which of them was responsible, Clothier sheepishly raised his hand.

As a result, the whole jury had to be discharged and the case was adjourned for a fresh trial to take place later in the year – and the defendant was remanded in custody.

After an adjournment for Clothier to get legal advice, he admitted acting in contempt of court by disregarding the judge’s directions not to search the internet in relation to the case, and was sentenced to six weeks in prison suspended for 12 months.

Graeme Simpson, defending, said: “He is 63 years old and has never been in trouble in his life. He is retired and does some part-time work for his brother, who’s a builder.

“He has never sought to hide the fact that he did what he did. He carried out the research he did, and it was shared with other jurors or another juror.

“To say he is embarrassed is an understatement. He is mortified.”

Recorder David Herbert QC indicated a custodial sentence was appropriate.

Sentencing Clothier, Recorder Herbert told him: “It gives me no pleasure to deal with it in this way. I gave you clear warning at the outset of this trial that you should not resource your own sources of evidence from the internet.

“You disobeyed that and caused a three-day trial to be aborted.

“As a result a young defendant will have to be held in custody awaiting a retrial and a very young complainant will have to go through the ordeal of giving evidence again. In addition, the daily costs of running a court are high. All that because you ignored my warning.