Simulated picture of a jury.
Simulated picture of a jury.

Investigation launched into alleged juror bias in child sex trial

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into alleged juror bias in a Hervey Bay child sex abuse trial.

Despite this, a judge has proceeded with sentencing the man who was found guilty of sexually abusing his niece for more than a decade.

The man had originally been accused of sexually abusing two nieces from the late 80s to 2000 but was only found guilty of 6 of 25 charges which related to only one of the girls.

During the man's sentencing Judge David Reid said the "somewhat surprising" verdict may be explained by whattranspired after the trial.

"There are real issues in respect to constancy of jury verdict," he said.

He pointed out an example of one charge were the man was found not guilty but when the judge looked over the evidence it was not apparent how they came to that decision.

The court heard a letter from one jury member had been handed to the register the day after the verdict was returned.

The letter identified another jury member who had allegedly told the jurors on the first day of the six-day trial he would not convict the man as he had "a legal dealing about his interactions with a 13-year-old child when he was young".

Judge Reid said it was unfortunate in the extreme that the jury did not inform him of this earlier.

He said the letter went on to say on Monday, which was the second day of the jury deliberations, the juror in question discussed a willingness to come to a verdict regarding unlawful carnal knowledge.

The juror allegedly reached the conclusion light sentencing would be imposed for such offences based on internet research he'd conducted over the weekend.

Judge Reid said he was particularly agitated as he had given clear directions to the jury not to engage is such conduct and to all other members of jury to contact him if such things occurred.

He said the behaviour was "grossly unfair to the parties involved".

The incident was transferred to the Sheriff in Queensland for investigation.

This could include any or all of the 14 jury members being interviewed and the juror's laptop be confiscated to decide whether or not that he did make searches over the weekend about rape and carnal knowledge.

He said in his view it was still appropriate to sentence the man who had been on trial as the determination of the jury still had legal efficacy.

He said the defendant, if he wished, may have an expedited appeal.

The investigation into the juror's conduct will be completed on or before December 22.

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