In the Media

Custodial sentence for holiday juror

PUBLISHED April 5, 2012

Thursday 05 April 2012 by John Hyde

A juror who pretended to be ill to go on holiday has been jailed for 56 days.

Janet Chapman had telephoned the court during a four-week trial to say she would miss two weeks because she was suffering from sciatica. But Chapman had phoned in the message from Malta where she had flown that morning for a holiday.

At Preston Crown Court today, Judge Russell told her she had 'deliberately deceived' court for her own means - a serious contempt of court only punishable by an immediate jail sentence.

He said: 'Jury service is one of the most important public duties that a citizen of this country can be called upon to perform.

'It is inconvenient, but an essential part of our democratic system. It is essential that the duty of jury service is taken seriously by those called upon to perform it, and that it is performed diligently and responsibility.'

The court heard Chapman and her fellow jury members were warned at the start of the four-week robbery trial they needed to explain in advance why they could not serve.

When Chapman failed to appear on the Monday morning of the fourth week, enquiries were made at her home and in the neighbourhood to find her. She had visited her doctor's surgery on the Monday complaining of a back problem and was issued with a sick note for seven days.

But she flew to Malta the following morning, later claiming she was unaware she was not allowed to go on holiday while absent from jury duty.

Judge Russell described this claim as 'ludicrous', adding that 'if you were too ill to attend court you were not fit to travel to Malta for the holiday'.