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Northern Ireland news

Juror in rugby rape trial posts second online article despite being under investigation for contempt of court

A JUROR in the rugby rape trial has posted a second article online, despite being ordered by the judge "not (to) comment on this case at all" and being under investigation by the attorney general for contempt of court.

The jury foreperson, who was on the jury for the entire nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court, clearly identified themselves in both posts published on Broadsheet.ie.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) referred the matter to the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan after learning of the initial post in the aftermath of the verdict on Wednesday, in which the juror answered comments made by others on the website about the trial.

The Lord Chief Justice's Office (LCJ) referred the matter to Attorney General John Larkin and made police aware of the posting.

"When the posts by the juror were brought to our attention yesterday, Judge Smyth issued a direction to all jurors that they were not to post any messages on social media or make any comments about the reasons for the jury verdict or their deliberations," an LCJ spokeswoman said.

"Officials from Belfast Crown Court phoned the jurors and passed on the direction."

A spokesman for Mr Larkin said the Attorney General has "received a referral from the Lord Chief Justice’s Office regarding a possible contempt of court".

"That referral is currently under consideration. I cannot give a timeframe for when the Attorney is likely to come to a decision."

However, yesterday afternoon a second post appeared on the same website.

In it the juror described being approached by the LCJ's office who asked if she had a lawyer and warned they were "liable for arrest".

She said she was told to contact Broadsheet.ie to have any reference to themselves and the rape trial taken down.

In this post the juror again publicly identified themselves.

However, they insisted that the original post was "within the parameters of the judge's discharge to all the jurors", saying "the one thing she said was: `Do not reveal conversations or discussions that occurred in the jury room.'"

The juror said they will "abide by" the further instruction from the judge "to not comment on this case at all".

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