10 Sep 2010

Trial aborted because jurors researched case

4:46 pm on 10 September 2010

A murder trial has been aborted after the presiding judge found that two jurors had disobeyed his direction not to do their own research on the case.

Wilson Apatu was on trial accused of breaking into a house in the small settlement of Waikoau north west of Napier, shooting dead a father of six and injuring his eight-year-old son.

The High Court in Napier had heard evidence from 25 witnesses when Justice Millar was told on Thursday that one of the jurors had been on the internet, and another researching information from a book.

He had told the jury earlier in the week that the trial, set down for a fortnight, would be very costly and stressful for the accused and it was important they didn't discuss it outside the jury room.

The jurors could face a charge of contempt of court. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson says any juror found to be in contempt of court could be fined up to $1000 or jailed for up to three months.

A new trial is set to start next Monday.