Jury foreman who Googled trial facts is sent to prison
A JURY foreman used the internet to look up information during a trial and then search for whether he could be jailed for using the web.
Lionel Tweed, 54, put himself forward to be foreman of a murder trial jury at Manchester Crown Court but ignored rules about not making internet searches.
During the lengthy trial of Polish man Piotr Olejarczyk – who stabbed another man to death – a fellow juror asked Tweed if there was national service in Poland. He said ‘yes’ but later decided he would check online.
Police seized Tweed’s computer and confirmed that he had made searches on December 18 and 21 about Polish National Service and compulsory army training.
Ironically, he had also made a search about jurors going to jail for such research the next day.
Olejarczyk was convicted on December 22 last year. At the sentencing hearing the next day one of the jurors handed in a note to the court explaining that during the trial Tweed had told them of his internet search.
Sentencing Tweed, Wesley Street, Swinton, Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Alan Conrad, QC, said it was made clear to jurors that they must not look for information outside the evidence, particularly internet searches.
“The potential consequences of disobedience of such orders, in relation to both the trial itself and to any juror concerned, are also emphasised. The integrity of the trial process is of paramount importance.”
Judge Conrad said he accepted of at DOMINIC SALTER that Tweed, a married man, is ‘very ashamed’ but the case was so serious that only immediate imprisonment could be justified. “It has to be made clear that conduct of this sort by jurors, in the face of warnings and with its potential impact on the criminal justice system, will be dealt with seriously.” Tweed, who was wearing a smart blue suit in the dock, had pleaded guilty to two charges involving research by a juror and sharing that research with other jurors and was jailed for four months. Gerard Doran, defending, said that Tweed, who has no relevant convictions, was ashamed and sorry for his behaviour, adding: “He took his role too seriously and got carried away.”
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