Belfast rape trial juror’s online comments are referred to AG

Juror’s posts under ‘Broadsheet’ article addressed reasons for jury’s decision in the case

Paddy Jackson speaks to the media as he leaves court in Belfast after being found not guilty of a charge of rape. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Paddy Jackson speaks to the media as he leaves court in Belfast after being found not guilty of a charge of rape. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

 

Comments made online by a juror in the Belfast rape trial have been referred to Northern Ireland’s attorney general.

The juror made the remarks in the comments section of an article on Broadsheet.ie about the acquittals in the trial.

The first comment appeared at 8.26pm on Wednesday, seven hours after the jury delivered unanimous not guilty verdicts on all counts. The juror made a series of comments describing the trial as well as answering questions from other users.

In the posts the juror addressed the reasons the jury came to its decision and defended the amount of time it had taken to reach a verdict.

Yesterday, following a query from The Irish Times about the remarks, the Public Prosecution Service said it had referred the matter to the office of the Lord Chief Justice, the most senior judge in Northern Ireland.

The Lord Chief Justice’s office then said it had referred the matter to the attorney general’s office and “other relevant authorities”.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman said: “We are aware of comments made on a social media platform.”

‘I’m in big trouble’

Speaking to The Irish Times last night, the juror said they had not commented on anything related to the jury’s deliberations, and therefore were not in breach of the judge’s order that jurors must not discuss the deliberations.

The juror contacted The Irish Times to say they had been told by the Lord Chief Justice’s office to remove the comments. The juror said they then got in touch with Broadsheet which took down the comments.

The Lord Chief Justice’s representation also asked them if they had a solicitor, the juror said, adding: “I’m in big trouble.”

“I’m sitting here in the kitchen waiting for the cops to arrive, two PSNI constables to arrive and I’m going to be handcuffed away and all I’ve done is just, I made a posting about, this is why there was a return of not guilty,” the juror said.

“When we were all discharged, the 11 of us, the only thing the judge said was, ‘Do you know what, go about your everyday life, whatever, business as usual, but don’t reveal discussions within the jury room,’ and none of that was like part of anything I have said.”