Victim on jury means case gets moved
POTENTIAL jurors summoned for a planned sexual assault trial in the District Court sitting in Warwick yesterday were dismissed when it was found one of them was an alleged victim of the accused in a separate case.
The 47-year-old man was set to undergo trial for two alleged sexual assaults on a female complainant, but proceedings were thrown into disarray after the startling discovery.
The woman approached the bailiff and told her she recognised the man as somebody against whom she was pursuing a similar charge in a separate proceeding.
She was immediately discharged from duty.
Defence counsel for the man told the court the woman tried to tell court staff of her concerns a week earlier.
Although the woman was discharged, concerns were expressed as to what information may have been passed to other potential jurors before that time.
The court heard the woman was in the company of other potential jurors before she had the opportunity to speak with the bailiff.
Judge Julie Ryrie said while she would hope the jurors would be honest in their knowledge of the case, it was hard to know whether that would occur.
Concerns were also raised about a number of other potential jurors, whom the court heard were known to the man.
Defence counsel for the man requested the jury be dismissed and proceedings be transferred to a more neutral court.
He said the decision to request the transfer was "devastating" to his client who wanted proceedings to be over and done with.
The Crown Prosecutor told the court he could not realistically oppose the defence lawyer's request to dismiss the jury.
Judge Ryrie made enquiries as to whether another jury could be summoned in Warwick for today but was told it could take weeks.
She expressed her disappointment at having to dismiss the jury, saying she was reluctant and always tried to keep matters progressing.
The man has had his case transferred to the Toowoomba District Court on December 15, where it will determined as to whether the matter will be heard in that court or sent back to Warwick.