Possible contempt of court proceedings for NI juror

By Gary Adair

A juror who has been taking part in a criminal case in Northern Ireland could face contempt of court proceedings after allegations that he discussed the case in public.

Belfast Crown Court Judge Gordon Kerr QC has advised the juror in question to get legal advice while he considers whether or not to bring contempt of court proceedings against him.

The juror has allegedly admitted to discussing the criminal sex case in a pub and to possible prejudice. The juror allegedly told people in the bar that he had been on jury duty "all week", and while he says he did not mention specifics about the case, he did comment that "it happened to my daughter before". Judge Kerr suggested that the historical incident with his daughter would "influence" his decision making in respect of the case, and the juror is said to have admitted this.

All jurors who take part in a court case are advised clearly at the outset that they are not to discuss details with anyone, and they are also asked to disclose any reason they should not sit on the jury, including anything that may make them disposed to sympathy or prejudice in respect of the accused. The entire jury was dismissed in this case even though the evidence had concluded and they were considering their verdicts.

If the judge does decide to bring contempt of court charges against the juror it would be the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland.

If you require legal advice from a criminal law solicitor in Northern Ireland, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 0546.