Rogue juror who took photos of alleged crime scene forces retrial


May 26, 2019 15:52:58

An Adelaide juror on a child sex abuse case has caused a mistrial, meaning a teenage girl will have to give evidence a second time, after he took his own photographs of the alleged crime scene.

Key points:

  • An Adelaide court quashed a man’s child sex abuse convictions and ordered a retrial because of the juror’s actions
  • The man was accused of keeping 120 images of a teenage girl in a folder marked “my eyes only”
  • He was accused of communicating inappropriately with the girl through app Snapchat

The Court of Criminal Appeal has quashed the convictions of a man aged in his 40s because of the juror’s photographs, and ordered a retrial after finding there had been a miscarriage of justice.

A District Court jury had found the man guilty of one count of communicating with the intention of making a child amenable to sexual activity and three counts of indecent assault against a child.

Chief Justice Chris Kourakis stated trial judge Peter Brebner was informed that a juror had photographed the scene of the alleged sex assault before showing three fellow jurors.

Judge Brebner dismissed the rogue juror before asking the other three if they could remove the information they had learnt outside of the trial “from their subconscious”.

“The jurors answered that they could,” Justice Kourakis said.

“The judge declined to dismiss jurors 35, 50 and 28.

“If they had been discharged there would have been insufficient jurors to complete the trial and a mistrial would have been declared.

“The jurors’ commitment to their duty can only be commended and it could not be doubted that they would have tried their level best.”

But Justice Kourakis said he was “not at all satisfied” that the jurors, when discussing whether the area where the girl was allegedly assaulted was well-lit or dark, could have “exercised such a discipline over their minds” to not think of conversations with the other juror.

“The human mind has no inherent capacity to compartmentalise information according to its source,” he said.

Images stored in folder marked ‘my eyes only’

During the trial, the prosecution stated that the man and 14-year-old girl would communicate through Snapchat and the accused had a folder within the application titled “my eyes only”, containing 120 images of her.

“He agreed that he retained some of the images she had sent him by screenshotting them,” Justice Kourakis stated.

“He denied that he had ever asked her to send him inappropriate photographs, that he had engaged in any inappropriate conversation, or that he had sent her photographs of his genitals.”

Police did not find any images of the girls’ exposed breasts on the phone.

The man told the jury that he would screenshot the images if he was “busy” or “driving” so he could look at them later.

“His evidence largely left unexplained why he then moved the screenshots from his camera roll to the ‘my eyes only’ folder,” Justice Kourakis said.

“He denied that he kept the photographs because he was sexually interested in her.”

The man is accused of kissing, hugging and touching the girl indecently in several locations throughout rural SA.

Justice Kourakis heard the appeal along with Justices Tim Stanley and Judy Hughes.







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