Major shooting trial collapses costing taxpayers £1.4m after four jurors research defendants online
Four jurors caused major shooting trial to collapse at a cost of £1.4 million to the taxpayer after researching the defendants online.
They searched on their mobile phones while sitting in a trial for conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to possess firearms, forcing a retrial for four defendants, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Tina Denning, Ann-Marie Fletcher, Sharon Doughty and Jamie Lowe were sworn in as jury members for the trial involving eight defendants on October 2 2019 at Nottingham Crown Court, and the case was due to start at the end of that year.
Researching any aspect of a case as a juror is a criminal offence and warnings were given throughout the trial, with the research only coming to light after the jury retired to consider its verdicts in February 2020.
As well as the four jurors researching the case, the information was shared with others, forcing the jury to be discharged on March 10 2020 with four defendants still awaiting verdicts.
The four jurors pleaded guilty to several offences under the Juries Act 1974 and were sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday.
Andrew Baxter, deputy chief crown prosecutor from CPS East Midlands, said: "Jury trials are a central component of our justice system.
"The diligence of the vast majority of jurors means we can be confident that decisions are based exclusively on the evidence given in court.
"However, despite numerous reminders throughout the trial, these four failed to comply with the strict and careful directions given by the trial judge whilst undertaking this hugely important public function."
Fletcher, 41, of Ironville, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to four counts of researching the case during the trial period.
She was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 120 hours of unpaid work.
Doughty, 51, of Mountsorrel, Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to two counts of researching the case during the trial period and a further charge of intentionally disclosing information to other jury members during the trial period.
She was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 120 hours of unpaid work.
Lowe, 27, of Long Eaton, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to four counts of researching the case during the trial period.
He was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 80 hours of unpaid work.
Denning, 50, of Nottingham, pleaded guilty to one count of researching the case during the trial period and a second count of intentionally disclosing information to other jury members during the trial period.
She was handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 80 hours of unpaid work.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Sinski, of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, said: "Not only did this offending result in a significant monetary wastage to the public purse, but the collapse of the trial caused witnesses to have to go through the traumatic experience of giving their evidence again at a retrial, as well as causing delay to the resolution of the case.
"These four jurors were well aware that they should not have been engaging in their own research into aspects of this case.
"Any action which interferes with the administration of justice is a serious breach and I hope the sentences imposed send a warning to other jurors about their essential responsibilities."