Juror who clutched book on witchcraft discharged

A WOMAN was thrown off the jury in the Real IRA trial after repeatedly carrying out spiritual rituals during the hearing, it was revealed yesterday.

The middle-aged woman complained of feeling "vibrations" as she sat in the jury box at the Old Bailey. She refused to look at crucial documents and instead clutched a witchcraft book and meditated while the court was in session.

Her odd behaviour was noticed by fellow members of the jury, lawyers and the judge, Mr Justice Gibbs. Previously, the court made arrangements for the woman to meditate during intervals in the trial.

During proceedings she was unwilling to look at jury papers because she needed one hand to hold her book and the other touching the floor, the court heard. Alarm was raised by the remaining 11 jurors in the sixth week of the 10-week trial.

In a note to the judge, they complained the woman was not concentrating when witnesses gave evidence and refused to look at exhibits.

During legal discussion the judge told counsel: "I am convinced she is no longer fit to act as a juror.

"For religious or spiritual implications she finds it necessary to place her other hand on the floor which makes it difficult for her to look at the bundle.

"It has nothing whatsoever to do with the case. I suspect it is a matter connected with the juror's own personality."

Discharging her from duty, he said: "I've come to the conclusion she is not fit to serve as a juror."

An order preventing reporting the reasons why the woman was discharged from the jury was lifted at the conclusion of the case.