Juror who Googled key information in murder trial spared jail

A Norwich Crown Court jury is considering verdicts in trial of man accused of being in a conspiracy

A Norwich Crown Court jury is considering verdicts in trial of man accused of being in a conspiracy to steal Mercedes vans. Photo: Adrian Judd.

A Norwich juror who carried out his own internet research into blood clotting during a murder trial was spared going straight to jail.

Andrew Smith, 63, ignored constant warnings by the judge about doing research and shared his findings with some fellow jurors as they were starting deliberations following a trial, Norwich Crown Court heard.

The matter was reported to the judge, who halted the trial, with wasted costs and inconvenience to witnesses. A retrial was then held.

Michael Procter, prosecuting, said: “The jury had been sent out by the judge and they were in the process of deliberations.”

He said on the morning of February 17, the jury was about to go out again, when Smith argued with some of the other jurors, who had medical background, about the time it took for blood to coagulate.

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Smith, who works as a carpenter, said blood took longer to coagulate and backed it up by saying he “Googled” some research about it.

Mr Procter said that, quite rightly, the matter was raised with the court and the trial abandoned at great cost to the taxpayer.

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Police spoke to Smith on February 23, this year, and he admitted making the internet search but said it was done with the best of intentions to back up a point he felt strongly about.

Smith of Bracondale, Norwich, admitted doing research by a juror and guilty to sharing research with other jurors.

Mr Justice Hilliard said it was made clear jurors should not do their own research.

“You were told every day by the judge not to do any research in relation to the trial. It could not have been clearer,” he said.

He said normally he would have gone straight to jail but due to his health and Covid he imposed a four month jail sentence suspended for 16 months.

He also ordered Smith to pay £3,500 costs and do 150 hours unpaid work. He said his actions had caused a trial to collapse: “All that time and expense was all for nothing because of you.”

Philip Stott, for Smith, said he was of positive good character and bitterly regretted his actions but was concerned that the right verdict was reached.

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