Told other jurors what she found out
A veteran juror and lawyer who conducted her own online research into the defendant and then told other members of the jury what she had discovered has been jailed.
Caroline Elizabeth Mitchell, 53, of York, was jailed for two months last week after pleading guilty to leaking information to jurors that was not evidence given in court.
The child sex abuse trial was dropped in March 2021 at an estimated cost of £30,000. The plaintiff and the accused had to wait eight months for a new trial and testify a second time.
At the initial trial at York Crown Court, the prosecution and defense could not agree on whether the complainant shared his bedroom with a sibling, BBC News reports.
The jury was given a floor plan of the property but not room dimensions, which could have changed since the 1970s when the alleged abuses allegedly took place.
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But although jurors were warned not to speculate on room sizes, Mitchell reportedly found details of a neighboring property, including the dimensions of its rooms, on the property’s Rightmove website.
The former lawyer for Irwin Mitchell, who qualified in 1995, took a screenshot and then showed it on her iPad to other jurors the next day. A clerk witnessed the incident.
Conviction Mitchell, Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC, said: ‘I have no doubt you did not intend to undermine the course of justice, but that is the effect of what you were doing .” As a lawyer, he added, Mitchell knew “the importance of court orders and the consequences of violating them.”
‘I have formed an opinion consistent with the facts… an appropriate sentence can only be found by an immediate custodial sentence,’ added Judge Kearl QC.
Irwin Mitchell was approached for comment.