Redcar juror's research caused sex trial to collapse

Gary Henderson outside court
Image caption Gary Henderson had been a juror at Teesside Crown Court where he returned for his own sentencing

A sex offence trial had to be aborted after a juror went to the alleged scene to carry out his own investigation, a court has heard.

Gary Henderson, 57, went to a lay-by on the A689 to see if claims about drivers being able to see the alleged offence stacked up, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Henderson, from Redcar, admitted carrying out his own research and sharing his findings with other jurors.

He was sentenced to six months in jail suspended for 18 months.

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said the trial in November 2017 had to be ended on its eighth day after Henderson told other jurors he had visited the lay-by.

She said the jurors had been told they should only make a decision based on the evidence heard in court.

'Clouded judgement'

Ms Atkinson said other jurors noticed he was a solitary character who seemed "troubled" by the trial but was "resolute" and "aggressive" with his view the defendant was guilty.

Damian Sabino, representing Henderson, said his client had lived in the area for 40 years and had driven past the lay-by "10,000 times".

He said his client, who was charged with two offences under the under the Juries Act 1974, had stopped at the lay-by on that day because "the case was on his mind".

Mr Sabino said Henderson, who has depression and anxiety due in part to the care he gives his disabled son, felt an "over-empathy" for the alleged victim which "clouded his judgement".

His Honour Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC told Henderson, of Walnut Grove, his actions had had consequences, including a "trial being aborted", witnesses having to repeat the "ordeal" of giving evidence and the accused facing the "strain" of a retrial.

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