Four jurors involved in a conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to possess firearms trial have received sentences after conducting independent research online during the trial process.
Tina Denning, Ann-Marie Fletcher, Sharon Doughty, and Jamie Lowe utilised their mobile phones to search for information on defendants associated with two shootings in Nottinghamshire.
The first shooting occurred on 2 October 2018 in Upper Langwith, where multiple shots penetrated a house’s window. The second incident transpired on 3 November 2018 when a gunman on a moped fired five shots towards the Das Kino bar in Fletcher Gate, Nottingham city centre, injuring a young woman.
Eight individuals faced numerous charges connected to the two events, leading to an extended trial at Nottingham Crown Court in late 2019 and early 2020.
On 2 October 2019, the jurors were explicitly instructed not to engage in independent research on any aspect of the case, including internet searches. The jury was warned that doing so constituted a criminal offence and received leaflets further detailing their duties and responsibilities. Additional reminders were issued as the trial progressed.
However, concerns about certain jurors’ conduct surfaced during the deliberation period, which began on 12 February 2020. Reports indicated that some jurors conducted their own research and shared their findings with others.
Consequently, the jury was discharged on 10 March 2020, with verdicts for four defendants still pending. The other two defendants were acquitted. The four jurors’ misconduct necessitated a retrial, costing over £1.4 million to the public.
Examination of the jurors’ mobile phones revealed that Denning, Fletcher, Doughty, and Lowe had each conducted online research on the case.
They were subsequently charged with offences under the Juries Act 1974. The East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) Major Crime Leicester Hub investigated the jurors’ misconduct.
Fletcher, 41, pleaded guilty to four counts of researching the case during the trial and received a six-month suspended prison sentence, along with 120 hours of unpaid work. Doughty, 51, pleaded guilty to two counts of researching the case and one count of intentionally disclosing information to other jurors, resulting in a six-month suspended sentence and 120 hours of unpaid work.
Lowe, 27, pleaded guilty to four counts of researching the case and was sentenced to a four-month suspended prison term, along with 80 hours of unpaid work.
Denning, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of researching the case and one count of intentionally disclosing information to other jurors. She was given a four-month suspended prison sentence and 80 hours of unpaid work.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Sinski of the EMSOU highlighted the significant financial burden on the public and the emotional distress caused to witnesses who had to testify again in the retrial. He emphasised that the jurors were fully aware of their misconduct and expressed hope that the sentences would serve as a deterrent for future jurors.
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