Dinner time request halts attempted murder trial

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The Independent Online
A JUDGE halted an attempted murder trial after a juror upset his colleagues with drinking and swearing. During evidence at Inner London Crown Court, the man had passed Judge George Shindler a note asking, 'When is it dinner time?'

Following the lunch break on Monday, the judge was told that other jurors had been upset that the man had been drinking during the week-long trial as well as swearing and generally distracting them.

The judge then decided after submissions by barristers that he had no alternative but to stop the trial and discharge all the jurors - at a cost to taxpayers of thousands of pounds.

But the man - in his 30s - was unrepentant as he was tackled by Judge Shindler in the absence of other jurors.

The judge told him: 'Well, sir, you sent a note at 12.59 which has been described, rightly, as an impertinence - 'When is it dinner time?'

The juror replied: 'Yeah.'

The judge continued: 'It has also come to my attention that you have been disruptive in so far as this jury is concerned. They have complained, with some justification. And in view of that note, and what has come to my attention, that you have been rude - saying to them you were going to go to lunch in any event.'

The juror protested: 'I didn't say that . . .'

The judge told him: 'And as well as being rude you have been drinking during court time . . .'

The juror said: 'I've had some drink and that's why I asked when is it dinner time.'

The judge added: 'In view of your demonstrated attitude to the administration of justice . . .'

But the juror interrupted, saying 'another juror kept wanting to go to the toilet', in a reference to another jury member who had to be excused every hour of the trial.

The judge continued: 'That is a quite different matter from the note you sent to the court. It is an impertinence - almost a contempt of court and as far as that is concerned I have come to the view that you are unfit - unsuitable to be a member of the jury.'

Still undaunted, the juror replied from the well of the court, looking up at Judge Shindler: 'If you say so]'

The judge discharged him from jury service and added: 'You are lucky I do not deal with this as a contempt of court.'

The other 11 jurors were then discharged. The retrial was due to start yesterday but was aborted when the defendant - accused over a shooting outside a London nightclub - dismissed his barrister.