Juror who accepted bribe in drug trafficking case jailed for six years

A juror who accepted a bribe has been jailed for six years in the first prosecution of its kind in Scotland.

Catherine Leahy, 62, served on a jury in a drug trafficking and money laundering trial at the High Court in Glasgow which returned a not proven verdict in April 2016 following three days of deliberation.

A police investigation was launched after information was passed to Crown Office staff regarding an alleged bribe to a juror.

Police then used covert audio surveillance to capture recordings of Leahy (pictured) talking with a family member at her Glasgow home about the allegations against her.

Her trial at the High Court in Glasgow heard Leahy had nearly £3,000 paid in four instalments into her bank account between April and June 2016, the Crown Office said.

Prosecutors linked the bank payments to the charge against Leahy, described as “a serious breach of public duty”.

At the High Court in Glasgow last month, she was found guilty of agreeing to receive money for not properly carrying out her role as a juror.

Leahy was sentenced to six years in jail at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday, the Crown Office said.

In his sentencing statement, later released by the Judiciary of Scotland, Lord Turnbull said: “In my judgement, 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.

“It is obvious that a very lengthy custodial sentence is merited by such conduct.”

Leahy is the first juror to be prosecuted under the Bribery Act 2010.

Lord Turnbull said the maximum sentence for the offence is ten years but he took into account mitigating factors including her very lengthy history of employment and the fact she has never previously offended.

Prosecutors are now giving further consideration to the circumstances of the original trial in which Leahy served as a juror.

The Crown can ask the court for authority to bring a fresh prosecution in cases where a person was previously acquitted in certain circumstances, including when an offence against the course of justice in the original trial is considered to have been committed.

Liam Murphy, procurator fiscal for Specialist Casework, said: “The role of the jury sits at the heart of our criminal justice system and is fundamental to our rule of law.

“This is the first prosecution of its kind in Scotland which shows that cases of jury interference are exceptionally rare.

“Leahy took advantage of a position of public responsibility for financial gain without any regard to the consequences.

“The prosecution against Leahy was built on a thorough and complex investigation by Police Scotland using covert surveillance to uncover the true nature of the offence.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Police Scotland / PA Wire.