The trial of a Rugby man who ‘tried his luck’ by groping a young woman while she was in a drunken sleep came close to being halted - after two jurors were heard discussing the case on a bus.
The jury had started considering the evidence in the trial of Steven Bradshaw, who had denied charges of sexual assault and assault be penetration, when the case was adjourned overnight.
They were sent home with a firm warning from the judge, Recorder Adrian Redgrave QC, not to discuss the case at all until they were all back together in the jury room.
But two of the jurors ignored the instruction and were overheard talking about the case on a bus.
A witness in the trial who was on the same bus told them what they were doing was inappropriate, only to be met with abuse from one of them, it was said.
After the incident was reported to the court, Recorder Redgrave said it was not clear from the description given to court staff which two jurors had been involved.
But after discussing the situation with the barristers in the case, he decided not to discharge the jury and to allow them to continue their deliberation.
Before sending them out to do so, Recorder Redgrave told them: “I received reliable evidence this morning that two of you were overheard discussing this case on the bus, something that yesterday evening I specifically told you not to do.
“What you did, you two, was hopelessly irresponsible and wrong, and you must have known it. There are two courses open to me; I can either discharge you as a jury, which would mean the whole trial would have to start afresh before a new jury, or I can allow the 12 of you to continue to deliberate. I have decided upon the latter.”
And he added: “Deciding on a verdict, with apologies to the other ten of you, is a serious and important duty.
“The consequences of your verdict are nothing to do with you. Your duty is to reach verdicts fairly and responsibly based on the evidence you’ve heard in court.”
Later, after a total of two hours 29 minutes, the jury found Bradshaw, aged 28, of Liza Court, Rugby, guilty of sexual assault but not guilty of assault by penetration.
The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, and he was granted bail.
During the trial the jury had heard that in August 2013 Bradshaw and his victim, who did not know each-other, were both at a get-together at a house in Rugby, and she had had three spliffs.
As he began to recap the evidence, Recorder Redgrave said: “In law a person consents if he or she agrees by choice - and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.”
Both Bradshaw and the young woman had been drinking, and she accepted she had given him ‘a peck on the lips,’ but that everything after that was without her consent.
Recorder Redgrave pointed out: “The defendant’s case is that ‘I was a normal young person trying it on with a girl, and I did nothing to which she did not consent. I was trying my luck. She responded by turning to me and rolling onto her back and kissing my lips.”
But the jury rejected his version of what had happened.