A Belfast solicitor has hit out at critics of the cost of the jury system.
James Hillis claimed his client, 40-year-old mother Eileen Millar, felt compelled to “elect for a jury trial” because she felt let down by the legal process.
“This was a woman seen on Tesco's own security cameras putting money in a charity box before being stopped,” he said. “Then she is heard on the interview tapes pleading that she'd made a genuine mistake in not paying for the shirts.
“I didn’t think this would get as far as a jury trial. I thought someone would have made a common sense decision and thrown this case out. It took 12 ordinary folk less than three hours to come to the conclusion that there was no case against her.”
He said Mrs Millar felt let down by the authorities as she had protested her innocence from the moment she was accused of stealing.
The mother-of-two had appeared at least six times in the Magistrates Court over the charge of shop-|lifting but it was repeatedly delayed. “She was exhausted by the whole process and felt she would get a fairer hearing in front of a jury of her peers,” Mr Hillis said.
“To her this was the end of her world — to be accused of being a thief. Her decision to take it to the Crown Court has been borne |out and she has been |exonerated.”