A Fife juror has been found in contempt of court after his personal investigations caused a trial to collapse.
Scott Nelson had been selected as a jury member at a trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
However, on its second day, Nelson was found to have made his own investigations outside the courtroom.
His activities led him to end up in the dock himself and at a hearing this week, reports were ordered on the 52-year-old after he was found to have acted in contempt of court.
‘Aware of severity’
Solicitor Elizabeth Dryburgh said: “He accepts, despite it was not wilful disregard, that your Lordship will find him in contempt.
“He accepts he should not have made enquiries of his own, given such clear instructions not to do so.
“He hadn’t thought about it.
“He is aware of the severity of the consequences of his actions.
“He is aware of the possible outcome for him, given the conduct.
“He is employed full-time as a gas engineer.
“He’d be able to pay a financial penalty.
“He’s no previous convictions, but for one driving offence.”
Fine or prison are only options
Before any evidence is led in jury trials, jurors are given strict instructions by the presiding sheriff to make their findings purely on the evidence led in the courtroom.
The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service’s online juror guide states: “Your task is to decide whether or not the charge(s) have been proven on the basis of the evidence that is presented to you in court.
“You must not make any investigations or enquiries of your own, only the evidence which has been presented to you in court is to be used in considering the verdict.”
Sheriff Robert More, who presided over the trial which collapsed, deferred sentencing on Nelson until January 5.
He said: “The reality is, because of this, a trial collapsed after two days of evidence.
“What I’m going to do is adjourn for a report.
“The sentencing options in contempt cases are very limited because the court cannot consider unpaid work.
“It really comes down to consideration of a financial penalty or a custodial sentence.”
The collapsed trial has been scheduled to start again afresh in the new year.