Trial collapses after Plymouth jury researches case on the internet
A TRIAL has collapsed at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds after three members of the jury researched the case on the internet.
It is the second time in a matter of weeks that a high-profile case at Plymouth Crown Court has been stopped for the same reason.
Judge Paul Darlow discharged the jury in the assault and attempted robbery trial of Paul Easby after two women and a man admitted they had looked things up on the web.
He had given the panel a clear warning not to carry out research – and had even mentioned the previous case where another trial had to be stopped.
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In the earlier hearing, eight days of evidence had been heard in a manslaughter trial in front of a High Court judge before proceedings were stopped.
Judge Darlow told the jury: "I cannot, and neither can anyone, trust you as a panel to listen to anything I say or do in terms of directions.
"These whole three days have been a complete waste of time and money."
Trials in the senior court are reckoned to cost up to £10,000 a day.
The judge said the trial should have brought closure to the 62-year-old victim Alan Clarke and to 35-year-old Easby.
But the Crown Prosecution Service will instead have to speak to Mr Clarke and consider whether to ask for a retrial.
Judge Darlow had warned the jury of six men and six women not to do their own research on anything related to the case on the internet.
He warned the jury that to do so could result in prosecution for contempt of court.
Judge Darlow also gave them a standard warning not to discuss the trial in small groups.
But a concerned juror passed a note to the judge yesterday after three hours of deliberations.
Judge Darlow brought the jury in and asked whether anyone had discussed any research about the case on the internet. One woman raised her hand.
He then asked whether anyone had carried out such research – and two other women and a man raised their hands.
Judge Darlow said the trio would not face any further action.
Easby, of Cornwall Beach, Devonport, admits assaulting Mr Clarke causing actual bodily harm in Rendle Street, Stonehouse, in November 2011.
But he denies attempted robbery, causing grievous bodily harm with intent and malicious wounding.
Easby remains in custody until a decision is made about a retrial. If no further hearing is pursued, he will be sentenced for the assault causing actual bodily harm admission.
The trial of Exeter man Thomas Durkin, aged 24, was abandoned last month at Plymouth Crown Court after eight days, including expensive expert evidence.
He is accused of the manslaughter of his partner's baby.
A High Court judge abandoned the hearing after one of the jury researched a definition of manslaughter, in fact an American definition, and shared it with other panel members.
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