Cannabis joint juror fined £450 at Bolton Crown Court

A juror in a rape trial who smoked a cannabis joint in his lunch hour, yards from the court, has been fined £450.

Shezad Hussain, 26, who was spotted by a juror on another case at Bolton Crown Court, admitted contempt of court.

Recorder Nicholas Clarke QC said Hussain had brought shame on his family.

Ben Lawrence, who represented Hussain, said his client was stressed after a violent attack on his family-owned shop by "gangsters".

The father-of-one from Hamel Street, Bolton, was one of 12 jurors on a week-long case of a man accused of raping a child and was spotted smoking the joint last Friday by the other juror, who retrieved the used butt from the pavement to hand to police.

'Stress relief'

Hussain at first denied the offence until he was warned by PC Michael Bailey that the butt could be examined for his DNA.

The trial judge had to adjourn the case while the police investigated and legal discussions took place with Hussain dismissed from the jury on Monday and charged with contempt of court

Hussain, who works in a cash and carry shop as well as his family's corner shop, was fined £450 - two weeks' wages.

Mr Lawrence said his client was "no more than an occasional user of cannabis".

"He uses it probably unwisely to deal with times of stress," he said.

'Embarrassed yourself'

It was the first and only time he had used the drug while sitting as a juror and he only did so after by chance bumping into a friend outside the court who was smoking cannabis and offered him the joint, the court heard.

The defendant lived with his pregnant wife, two-year-old son, mother and two sisters at their corner shop in Bolton.

Mr Lawrence said "just a few weeks" ago the premises suffered a violent break-in by two "well known gangsters" who made threats and attempted to rob the shop.

The jury in the rape trial was unable to reach a verdict and a retrial was ordered.

Mr Clarke QC told Hussain: "You have embarrassed yourself and brought shame on yourself."

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