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Judge attacks jury verdict

JUDGE John Prosser, widely condemned for sentencing a teenage rapist to pay his victim pounds 500 towards a holiday, has provoked fresh controversy by telling jurors they returned the wrong verdict, writes Helen Nowicka.

One of the jurors, John Bowyer, is to complain to the Lord Chancellor's department. Mr Bowyer said yesterday that the majority of the jurors agreed with him, adding: 'It isn't for the judge to turn around and say he thinks a man is guilty of an offence when he's just been cleared by the jury.' Swansea Crown Court heard last Friday that Tony Lewis, 31, had punched Ronald Batey, a jazz musician, in the face, shattering his teeth. The judge said he was 'baffled' by the jury's decision to clear Lewis of malicious and unlawful wounding, and convict him of the lesser offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The judge, who sentenced Lewis to an 18-month conditional discharge, said: 'If the jury had found you guilty of the section 20 offence, which in my view you were, you would have gone to prison.'