Juror spared jail after the trial collapsed in the case of a Hartlepool sex attack allegation

A juror at Teesside Crown Court who caused a sex trial to be abandoned after eight days has been given a suspended jail sentence.

By Peter Tennick
Wednesday, 13 February, 2019, 11:56
Henderson was given a six months jail sentence suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to two offences under the Juries Act in November 2017 by researching evidence and facts.

Gary Henderson, 57, told other jurors that over the weekend break in the case he had driven to the scene of the alleged sex attack - a lay-by on the A689 on the outskirts of Hartlepool - and he was convinced that the defendant was guilty.

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said that Henderson's aggressive claim that the witness was telling the truth led to a woman juror sending a note to Judge Stephen Ashurst who dismissed the entire jury.

The defendant was eventually acquitted of historic sexual abuse after a retrial.

Miss Atkinson said that part of the evidence was whether a passing motorist could have seen any attack in the lay-by.

She said that when the jury discussed the evidence Henderson said that he had visited the lay-by and he gave them evidence about that. He said that it could not be seen from the road.

She added: "He conducted his own research by visiting the lay-by and shared it with the other jurors to re-enforce his feelings that the man was guilty.

"Other members told him that he should not be acting in that way and they brought it to the attention of the judge who discharged the jury."

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Damian Sabino, defending, said that Henderson had lived in that area for over 40 years and he drove past it over 10,000 times sometimes twice a day.

He added: "He felt that the victim was telling the truth.

"When the matter came to light he did make immediate reparation saying he did not think that what he did was wrong.

"He felt that having sworn an oath to tell the truth that was what he did."

Mr Sabino said that Henderson had been affected by an experience in his past, which he would not outline in open court.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC told Henderson: "One of the factors in suspending the sentence is your past experience which is alluded to in the reports."

Henderson, of Walnut Grove, Redcar, was given a six months jail sentence suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to two offences under the Juries Act by researching evidence and facts