The question every jury is asked when returning a verdict is: "Is it unanimous?" Not a particularly complicated enquiry, but one which proved confusing for one Old Bailey foreman. On Thursday, the jury in the murder case of Chrisdian Johnson, the 22-year-old who used his dog to maul his victim before stabbing him to death, returned a unanimous verdict.Or, did they..?
But as the news channels were reporting Johnson's conviction, a phone rang in the Old Bailey. One of the jurors had called the court to say the verdict was not unanimous.So, all's well that ends well, right?
Given that Judge Christopher Moss had not given the jurors permission to return a majority verdict, there was a question mark over whether the verdict could stand. And so yesterday, after a series of phone calls to get the jury back to court, Thursday's verdict was nullified and the jury was sent out again, this time with a majority direction, and told to reconvene. They returned less than an hour later with a majority verdict of 10-2.
The bizarre episode has led to suggestions that the confusion could open the door for Johnson's defence to appeal, not least because yesterday morning's newspapers carried potentially prejudicial reports of his guilt before he had technically been convicted./golfclap