All twelve jurors dismissed in Baryugil murder trial
THE entire jury panel in the Baryulgil murder trial of Donald Gordon has been discharged, after it was revealed one of the jurors was related to the alleged murder victim Danial Cotter.
In the Grafton courthouse this morning it was heard that the relationship between Cotter and the juror was unknown to the juror himself until last night, and Supreme Court judge Justice Stephen Campbell stressed there had been no misconduct on his part.
In addressing the court, Justice Campbell relayed the basics of a note from the juror, in which it was revealed that a member of his family, knowing he had been required for jury duty, contacted his father to pass on the information.
"I am satisfied that the information obtained, was obtained in the circumstances he sets out in his note and that there has been no misconduct on the part of the juror," he said.
"The simple fact of the matter is that he has learnt that he is a relative of the deceased."
Justice Campbell said despite the fact the juror did not believe he had ever met Cotter, there was a question as to "whether one could truly impartially sit in judgement of a person accused of murdering a blood relative".
After the juror was respectfully discharged from service, the defence moved to discharged the remaining 11 jurors citing the right for the accused to be trialled by a full jury and the fact less than a day's evidence had been heard in court.
Technically a Supreme Court trial can continue with a minimum of 10 jurors, but Justice Campbell agreed with the defence.He said considering the seriousness of the case, the fact the trial was still in its infancy and the availability of a new jury panel next week, it would be appropriate to discharge the full jury and start afresh next week. "In the event of a guilty verdict, Mr (Gordon) will doubtless be imprisoned for decades," he said. "The seriousness of the matter is a most relevant consideration to the exercise of my discretion. "After treason, murder is the most serious crime on our criminal calendar. Cases of this nature are of great importance, not just to the accused and the family's victims.. but the whole community. "It just seems to me that the interests of justice require me, as the preferred course, to discharge you all and start again on Monday." Gordon is accused of the murder of his friend Danial Cotter near the entrance of Collum Collum station, west of Baryulgil. Cotter's body was found lying in a ditch at the entrance to the cattle station on the morning of Thursday, November 7, 2013, having died of significant head injuries including multiple skull and facial fractures. A new jury is expected to be empanelled for the trial at the Grafton courthouse on Monday.