Wilson, Regina v: CACD 16 Jan 2008

Appeal from conviction at a trial where a juror saw the defendant’s name also in the court lists for later that week. In ruling against the application to discharge the jury, the judge adverted seriatim to a number of points which he enumerated. First, he observed that since television screens of this kind had been installed, this was a situation which arose in this Crown Court routinely and no doubt in others. Secondly, he observed that the list was also published these days on the internet and the jury could find it there if they chose to look. Thirdly, he pointed out that the recent expansion of the class of persons eligible to serve on juries to include legal professionals means that juries are likely to have more knowledge of, as he put it, the intricacies of the law than traditionally was to be expected. Fourthly, he said that there was no evidence that the juror had gone any further than making the non-committal enquiry which he had or than accepting the non-committal reply. Next and fifthly, he directed himself that it would be wrong to treat the jury as if it would not pay proper attention to the directions which were given to it. Sixthly, and as it seems to us principally, he concluded that in this case it beggared common sense to say that the jury was not going to know quite enough about the appellant’s bad character in any event for it to make any difference.
Held: The appeal failed. The court understand the dilemma with which counsel was faced unexpectedly. With hindsight, it would have been very much better if the issue had been tackled face on by the judge, whatever the submissions made on behalf of the appellant. It was plainly at least possible that one or more jurors might work out that the appellant faced some other charge. The better course, as it seems to us, would have been to say either that they should pay no attention to something which might well have an explanation in the technology, or that whether he faced another charge or not was entirely irrelevant to the question which they had conscientiously sworn to try, namely whether he had done what was alleged in this case.


[2008] EWCA Crim 134




England and Wales

Criminal Practice

Updated: 29 May 2022; Ref: scu.271265