Letter to blame for collapse of trial
The trial of two brothers accused of recklessly causing harm to their uncle has collapsed because one of the jurors used to play football with their brother.
The juror wrote a letter to the judge two days into the trial, outlining he had only realised his relationship with a member of the accused men's family while discussing it with a friend.
During the jury selection process at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Donagh McDonagh said he rejected an attempt by Darren Delaney to get out of jury service, citing asthma and starting a new job.
Robert Kelly (31) of Ogham Rian, Tralee, Co Kerry, and Thomas Kelly (34) of Marian Park, Tralee, deny causing serious harm to their uncle, Gerald Fitzgerald, at his home at Mitchel's Road in the town on November 8, 2011.
Judge McDonagh said by Mr Delaney's own admission, he had discussed the case with a friend, although he had been instructed by the court not to.
In the letter, Mr Delaney said he knew the defendants' brother since his school days, had played soccer with him, and socialised with him when he was home.
Judge McDonagh said he was withdrawing the matter reluctantly and discharged the jury.
He instructed them not to discuss the case to avoid contamination of any future jury.
No sanction was imposed on Mr Delaney for causing the collapse of the trial.