Juror jailed for taking bribe during cocaine dealing trial in which accused walked free
Vehemently denied having been bribed, claiming the money had come from a savings club she belonged to
A juror has been jailed for six years after accepting a bribe during a £7 million cocaine dealing trial, which saw the defendants walk free.
In what is believed to be one of the first cases of its kind in Britain, Catherine Leahy, 62, was found guilty of accepting money to influence her actions while serving as a juror on a criminal trial.
The widow and former classroom assistant was acting as jury foreman in the five-month trial of a husband and wife who were accused of running a cocaine empire and money laundering operation in Scotland.
Graham Clarke, 36, and his wife Lindsay, 32, walked free from court after the case was found not proven at the High Court of Justiciary in Glasgow in April 2016.
But the day after the verdict was delivered, court staff received a tip off suggesting one of the jurors may have been bribed. Detectives began probing the finances of all the jurors and after suspicion fell on Leahy, they bugged the Glasgow home she shared with Joseph, her 22-year-old son.
He was originally on trial with his mother but the charges against him were later dropped. Police recorded 31 conversations between Leahy and her son, who at one point was heard to say: “Mum, it wasn’t just you that got bribed so that now when they come to you, you’re a step ahead.” His mother then replied: “There is nothing that can link you with them.”
During her trial it emerged that Leahy had received almost £3,000 in instalments, paid into her bank account between April and June 2016.
The court heard that Leahy had been struggling financially at the time with only her salary as a classroom assistant and widow’s pension.
She vehemently denied having been bribed, claiming the money had come from a savings club she belonged to.
But the jury did not believe her and at the High Court in Edinburgh she was sentenced to six years.
Sentencing, Lord Turnbull said: “In my judgment, to agree to accept a bribe, from or on behalf of the accused, whilst serving as a juror in a High Court trial, involves conduct which reflects such a serious breach of the public duty which forms the cornerstone of justice in our society, as to constitute conduct at the most serious end of that contemplated by the provisions of the Bribery Act.
“The nature and seriousness of the lengthy trial in which you served as a juror, and accepted the position of spokesperson, aggravates the offence even further.”
Liam Murphy, procurator fiscal for specialist casework, said: “Leahy took advantage of a position of public responsibility for financial gain without any regard to the consequences.”
Prosecutors are now considering whether to order a retrial in the original case.