Farmer case juror contacts Martin's defence team

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The Independent Online

A woman claiming to be a juror in the trial of a farmer convicted of murdering a teenage burglar told a radio station she "would have done the same thing" as the jailed man, a spokeswoman for the station said yesterday.

The unnamed woman told Radio Broadland in Norwich that the eight-day trial of Tony Martin had "changed her life" and she was now frightened of leaving her house.

Lawyers representing Martin said they were investigating information given by the alleged juror after she contacted and spoke to them. But reports that the woman had said she felt intimidated into giving a guilty verdict were dismissed by the radio station and relatives of the dead teenager.

Martin, 55, of Bleak House, near Emneth, Norfolk, was found guilty by a 10-2 majority of murdering burglar Fred Barras, 16, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, at Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday. He was given life for the shotgun murder and for wounding the youth's fellow burglar Brendon Fearon in August last year.

Details of the juror's call were released by Broadland 102 FM after Martin's lawyers said they were investigating suggestions that jurors may have felt pressured, and had asked the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate.

Apparently, the woman had called the presenter, Rob Chandler, shortly before 8am on Thursday, during a station phone-in about the Martin case, which has sparked a headed debate on rural crime.

A transcript of the broadcast begins with Mr Chandler telling listeners: "We have just spoken to one of the jurors and they do not wish to be named or come on air. I think the most powerful thing that this person said was that the last eight days had changed their life. This person now actually feels frightened to leave their house having heard some of the things they heard.

"They never actually wanted to be on the jury in the first place but did not have any choice. The most poignant thing I think they said was that in Tony Martin's situation they would have done the same thing and paid the consequences."

Martin's conviction has provoked a backlash among many people living in the country who have complained about rising crime and argued for the right to defend themselves. But reports on Thursday also suggested the woman, who may be a hoax caller, had also said she had been intimidated by supporters of Martin's victims into bringing a conviction. A spokeswoman for the station said the woman caller had not spoken of being "intimidated, pressured or nobbled". Court officials are now expected to contact each juror.

Martin is planning an appeal.