Told fellow jurors what she discovered
A juror and experienced solicitor who conducted her own online research into the defendant and then told fellow jury members what she had discovered has been jailed.
Caroline Elizabeth Mitchell, 53, from York, was jailed for two months last week after pleading guilty to disclosing information to jurors that was not evidence provided in court.
The child sexual abuse trial was abandoned in March 2021 at an estimated cost of £30,000. The complainant and defendant had to wait eight months for a new trial and give evidence for a second time.
At the original trial at York Crown Court, the prosecution and defence couldn’t agree on whether the complainant shared their bedroom with a sibling, BBC News reports.
The jury was given a floor plan of the property but not the dimensions of the rooms, which could have changed since the 1970s when the alleged abuse is said to have occurred.
But despite jury members being warned not to speculate on the size of the rooms, Mitchell is said to have found details of a neighbouring property, including the dimension of its rooms, on property website Rightmove.
The former Irwin Mitchell solicitor, who qualified in 1995, took a screenshot and then showed that on her iPad to other jurors the next day. A court clerk witnessed the incident.
Sentencing Mitchell, Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC, said: “I don’t doubt you didn’t intend to undermine the course of justice but that is the effect of what you were doing.” As a solicitor, he added, Mitchell knew “the importance of court orders and the consequences of breaching them”.
“I have formed the view in line with the facts … appropriate punishment can only be be found by an immediate custodial sentence,” Judge Kearl QC added.
Irwin Mitchell has been approached for comment.
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