Regina v Young (Stephen): CACD 30 Dec 1994

Jury Consulting Ouija Board – Serious Irregularity

It had been suggested that during their overnight stay in a hotel after retiring to consider their verdict, some of the jurors had consultated an ouija board to consult with the deceased, and to ask him who had been his killer. Having believed that contact had been made, it was reported that the deceased had named the accused as the murderer. A jury member had disclosed this, concerned at the result. The defendant appealed.
Held: There had been a material irregularity. An enquiry into the jury’s activities after retirement whilst at a hotel were permitted. It was an enquiry relating to events outside the jury room itself, and did not relate to their deliberations. The court noted that there were some cases in which possible extrinsic influences on a jury in retirement had been investigated by the court, and felt able to investigate what was alleged to have happened overnight when the jury was accommodated in a hotel. The period in the hotel was held not to form part of the ‘deliberations’ for the section, so a carefully circumscribed investigation was possible without contravening the provisions of the Act.
Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ said: ‘We concluded having heard all the arguments that we were entitled to inquire into what happened at the hotel but not as to what happened thereafter in the jury room. Accordingly we ordered that affidavits should be taken from each of the 12 jurors and from the two bailiffs looking after them at the hotel. We asked the Treasury Solicitor to take charge of the inquiry in conjunction with a senior police officer of at least the rank of chief inspector. We required the affidavits to cover what if anything happened at the hotel, but not to breach section 8 of the Act of 1981 by trespassing on what happened during the jury’s deliberations in their retiring room’ and ‘Having considered all the circumstances, we concluded there was a real danger that what occurred during this misguided ouija session may have influenced some jurors and may thereby have prejudiced the appellant. For those reasons we allowed the appeal but ordered a retrial.’

Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ
Gazette 08-Feb-1995, Times 30-Dec-1994, Ind Summary 16-Jan-1995, (1995) 2 Cr App R 379, [1995] QB 324, [1995] 2 WLR 430
Contempt of Court Act 1981 8(1)
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Thompson CCA 1962
There was tendered to the court what appeared to be a statement from a juror asserting that a majority of the jury had been ready to acquit until the foreman read out a list of the previous convictions of the accused.
Held: ‘This court is now . .
CitedRegina v Bean 1991
Jury – Enquiry . .
CitedRegina v Less CA 30-Mar-1993
There was disquiet over a jurors’ discussion with the defendant after a trial.
Held: No enquiry was proper. . .

Cited by:
CitedRegina v BM and Another CACD 9-Dec-1996
A message was offered to one of the solicitors acting for a defendant from a relative of a juror after the trial.
Held: Rules against hearing of jury deliberations are wider than Contempt of Court Act. The court refused to commence any Young . .
CitedRegina v Connor and another; Regina v Mirza HL 22-Jan-2004
The defendants sought an enquiry as to events in the jury rooms on their trials. They said that the secrecy of a jury’s deliberations did not fit the human right to a fair trial. In one case, it was said that jurors believed that the defendant’s use . .
CitedRegina v Millward CACD 7-Apr-1998
The defendant was tried for causing grievous bodily harm. After a majority direction, the jury returned, finding him guity. When asked if this was ‘the verdict of you all’, the formean replied ‘Yes’. The day after, he wrote to the judge to say that . .
CitedPintori, Regina v CACD 13-Jul-2007
The defendant appealed his conviction for possession of class A drugs, saying that the drugs found had belonged to somebody who had stayed at his flat whilst he had been away. One of the jurors later told a police officer that she had known through . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contempt of Court, Criminal Practice

Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.88365