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Non-Jury Trials

Trials without a jury in England and Wales were introduced under Sections 44 to 49 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and came into force on 24 July 2006.

The Act provided for non-jury trial in cases where there is a danger of jury tampering or where jury tampering has taken place.

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Four armed robbers found guilty in first trial without jury

31/03/2010

Portia Ragnauth, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Surrey Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) described the first trial without a jury in England and Wales as a "benchmark prosecution" after four men were found guilty today over the 2004 armed robbery of the Menzies World Cargo depot at Heathrow Airport.

John Twomey, Peter Blake, Glenn Cameron and Barry Hibberd were found guilty by a single judge at the Central Criminal Court after he was satisfied that they carefully planned and co-ordinated the attack on the warehouse where  more than £1,750,000 of various currencies were taken on 6 February 2004.

Ms Ragnauth said: 'This has been a long, challenging and complex case for our team who worked for six years on this prosecution. A previous trial had to be stopped when we were aware that there had been interference with the integrity of the jury. We informed the court of this, which was satisfied that there was a real and present danger of jury tampering.

'We considered carefully the implications and risks of having another trial with a jury and we felt that in order to protect the interests of our criminal justice system, we had to make an application to have a trial without a jury.

'The basis of our application to the Court of Appeal was that any future trial was likely to involve jury tampering and any protective measures for the jury could not sufficiently address the problem of potential interference. It was also felt that these measures, if they had to be implemented during the course of a trial, would have been too burdensome on the lives of potential jurors.

'After taking into consideration the evidence and the history of this case, we had no doubts that only a trial without a jury would protect the integrity of this prosecution and this was accepted by the Court of Appeal, which dismissed defence claims that it would be an abuse of process.

'At no time was it thought inappropriate to continue with this prosecution. Although the offences were committed six years ago, we should not forget that these men rounded up, tied up and held at gunpoint the 16 terrified employees of the Menzies depot and subjected them to a frightening and violent attack.

'When one of the staff tried to escape the ordeal, Peter Blake shot at the defenceless man several times but, fortunately, without the member of staff sustaining serious injury.

'The CPS is strongly in favour of trial by jury and this is the first case to be heard by a judge alone since the law to allow it came into force in 2003.

'Our jury trial system should not be undermined by any suspected intimidation and jury tampering and we will continue to apply for a trial without a jury when we have evidence that justice would not be served otherwise.

'It has taken six years since the offences were committed to see a result in this case and we would like to thank all those who have helped us along the way, including all the witnesses and the prosecution team.'

Ends

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