Juror sent home because he didn't like his lunch
A juror has been sent home and discharged from hearing a trial because he had a row with cafeteria staff about his lunch.
The anonymous juror got into an argument with catering staff at Exeter Crown Court and sent the judge a note saying that the confrontation had upset him so much he could not carry on.
The note said the member of the panel was so angry and upset by the incident during lunch he did not feel he could give the case the attention it deserved.
The juror was a day and a half into a trial of a businessman accused of causing death by careless driving and was having lunch in the private cafeteria reserved for juries.
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No details were given of the nature of the argument between the juror and staff employed by the French firm Sodexo, who have the catering contract at the court.
Judge Philip Wassall discharged the juror after discussing the note with barristers representing the prosecution and defence.
He then called back the remaining members of the jury and explained in open court what had happened. Several jurors nodded in recognition as he told then what happened.
He told the jury: ”I should explain why there are now only 11 of you. There was an incident during the adjournment in which the other juror was served lunch and in the course of being served, something upset him.
“It did so to a considerable degree and to an extent he could no longer apply his mind to this case properly. The note he sent me led me to the same conclusion.
“So, having spoken with counsel and having seen the juror I have decided the best way to ensure that a fair trial to take place is to discharge him.
“I don’t know if you witnessed the upset in the cafeteria during lunch but it was a dispute between the juror and members of the catering staff, not even the court staff.
“It should have no impact on the way in which the rest of you discharge your duties.”
The remaining 11 jurors will continue to try the case of care home owner Keith Mills, who denies causing the death by careless driving of rugby coach Richard Sawbridge, 65.
Mills, 54, of Colcombe Wood, Colyton, Devon, denies causing death by careless driving.
The prosecution say he was driving too fast for the conditions and lost control of his powerful Audi R8 sports car, causing it to crash head-on with Mr Sawbridge’s Renault Megane.
Mills told police he was driving at a reasonable speed and blamed the crash on aquaplaning on a stream of water flowing across the road from a flooded ditch.
The accident happened in January 2012 during a shower and after a night of heavy rain.