Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Texting juror jeopardises two trials

A judge criticised a teenager after she jeopardised two crown court trials by texting gossip claiming a defendant was a paedophile.

Danielle Robinson (19) was serving on a jury at Hull Crown Court when she sent two messages to a woman juror sitting on another trial.

She passed on “gossip” she had heard outside the court about a defendant in a second trial.

The accusations were totally unsubstantiated and later found to be a pure fabrication.

One message said: “... he's been in prison before and is a paedo and when he broke into the pub he took all the kids underwear xx.”

She appeared at Hull Crown Court on Tuesday after admitting a charge of contempt of court. The unmarried mother of a five-month-old boy wept as the judge handed her an eight-month suspended prison sentence.

A spokeswoman for the judiciary confirmed the judge's criticism of the teenager.

Judge Roger Thorn QC said: “You blatantly breached ... instructions about no communication with others.

“Even that juror warned you she should not talk about the case. The text message could not have been more damaging.

“Despite being told by the other juror she could not talk about it, you sent the message saying the person had been to prison, and that he was a paedophile, about which there was no evidence.”

He said she had demonstrated a lack of common sense and had “let down your own generation”.

Robinson, of Greatfield Estate, Hull, was said to be remorseful and very sorry for the trouble she had caused.

Both jurors had to be discharged but neither trial collapsed as a result of her actions.

Crown barrister Steven Robinson said the juror who received the message worried overnight wondering what to do.

She informed a jury bailiff the next morning who then told the judges in both cases.

He said Robinson had no previous convictions, but a caution for shoplifting when she was 10 years of age.

As a result of what she confessed was “childish and silly” behaviour both trials almost collapsed.

Both jurors had to be discharged.

This would have added delay to the trials which had already cost taxpayers £10,000 a day.

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