Ex-policeman jailed over jury nobbling

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The Independent Online
JASON BENNETTO

Crime Correspondent

A former police sergeant who was decorated for bravery yesterday became the first officer to be convicted of jury nobbling.

John Young, 45, was jailed for seven years after he was convicted of offering the names and addresses of jurors for pounds 30,000 to the sister of an armed robber.

Southwark Crown Court was told that the former Metropolitan Police officer, with more than 24 years' service, obtained details of the Old Bailey jury with the help of a serving officer who was supposed to be giving them 24 hour protection.

Passing sentence, Judge Gerald Butler QC told Young that what he had done "strikes at the very roots of our system of criminal justice".

The jury heard that in March last year Young, of New Barn, Kent, approached the sister of James Lawson, who was one of four defendants facing kidnapping, robbery and firearms charges. At the time jurors were being given 24-hour protection because one of his co-defendants had escaped from custody.

Young offered to supply Lawson's sister with information in return for cash. He said he could secure "favourable" verdicts for her brother, who was later jailed for 18 years.

He told Amanda Lawson that he could provide addresses of jurors. As an "act of good faith" he gave her the address of one of the jurors. But Ms Lawson told police, who set up an undercover operation in which Young accepted money and provided names of four other jurors.

Detective Chief Inspector Leslie Fitzgerald, of Scotland Yard's Organised Crime Squad, told the court that as far as he knew this was the first case involving a former or serving officer. He added: "Jury nobbling does happen but it is very rare. The problem is that it only rarely comes to light."

Legislation is currently going through Parliament which will give judges the power to order a retrial in the event of a conviction for jury nobbling.

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