A Preston trial has been abandoned after a police officer sat in court started making facial expressions while a defendant was giving evidence.
A judge discharged the jury on Tuesday during the trial of a 22-year-old man who was accused of aggravated burglary at a home in Chorley.
Members of the jury became concerned about “facial expressions” being made by the officer during the evidence and brought it to the court’s attention. The defendant’s legal team applied to Judge Graham Knowles QC to have the proceedings halted.
The Evening Post understands the judge stopped the case and discharged the jury on the grounds of the conduct and behaviour of the police officer.
The case has taken six months to come to trial and has cost more than £1,600 in Crown Prosecution Service costs alone.
It will now be September 17 before a new trial is held.
A spokesman for the Judicial Office, which runs courts in England and Wales, said: “Questions were raised by the jury about facial expressions made during the defendant’s evidence by someone who was subsequently identified as a police officer. “The defence applied to the trial judge for the jury to be discharged.
“After hearing from the defence and the prosecution Judge Knowles QC discharged the jury. A new trial will take place in September.”
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “As a result of a matter brought to the attention of the judge during the trial, a decision was made to discharge the jury. There will be a retrial on September 17.”
The defendant had already appeared at one previous magistrates’ court hearing in February and three previous crown court hearings before the trial began on Monday.
The trial was into its second day when the jury was discharged.
The defendant, who gave his home address as a property in Bolton, is alleged to have committed the aggravated burglary offence at a home in Chorley in February this year.
He was arrested and appeared before magistrates in Preston in February, where the case was then sent to Crown Court.
A preliminary hearing was held in March before a plea and case management hearing in May.
A further hearing was held in July to fix a trial date.
Two previous attempts had been made to begin the trial but administrative and court time issues meant it could only begin on Monday.
A spokesperson from Lancashire Constabulary said: “We accept the decision of the judge and remain fully committed to the welfare of the victim in this case and the integrity of the prosecution case. The police officer in question is a highly professional and committed officer with over ten years of service. He is deeply disappointed by what has happened but remains dedicated to this case.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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