Jailed teenage juror: I was stupid


A teenage juror jailed for halting a trial after pretending he was ill so he could watch a musical admitted today that he had been "stupid".

Matthew Banks, 19, was released this morning after serving four days of a 14-day sentence at a young offenders' institution.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said he had no idea that the trial would have to be halted while he was not there as he had heard that cases sometimes sat with just 11 jurors.

He said he could not put into words how much he regretted his actions during the trial at Manchester Crown Court, after which he was found to be in contempt of court.

He told Victoria Derbyshire: "I don't know how to say how much I do regret what I did. Hindsight is a brilliant thing and I know I would not have done it if I had any idea that the case would have to be postponed.

"I knew it was stupid, but the ticket had been bought for me for a present and there was just a lot of people I didn't want to let down."

Mr Banks, who is studying French at Manchester University, said he had no idea he would end up in jail.

He said: "When I was told to go to court I was just told that the judge might want to speak to me before the case restarted, then I was taken straight up to the dock and remanded in custody.

"I spoke to a barrister who said he was probably just flexing his legal muscles and I should get a fine.

"When I found out I was going to prison I just felt numb."

Mr Banks went to London to see Chicago with his mother, Debbie Ennis, 49, who told the radio show she had no idea her son was meant to be sitting on the jury that day.

She said she thought the sentence was "very harsh", adding: "When you think that there are people that commit crimes that hurt other people and they get off."

Mr Banks said he was "happy" to have been released before Christmas, adding that he had been locked in his cell for his own safety after his fellow inmates had found out that he was gay.

"People were just negative from then on," he said. "Before that people were quite ok to me, they just let me be really. But as soon as they found that out I started to get a lot of trouble."

Mrs Ennis said the family was now looking at appealing his conviction as it could damage her son's future job prospects.

The week-long trial that Mr Banks had been sitting on later continued in his absence with the remaining 11 jurors reaching a verdict.

Judge Martin Rudland, who presided over the trial and sentenced Mr Banks, labelled him "frivolous".

He said he locked him up "with a heavy heart" but added that lying to court officials for such a frivolous reason was a serious offence, which carries a maximum sentence of two years.


Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice