A FAILED attempt to derail a multi-million-pound drugs trial has landed one man in jail for 15 months.
Christopher Brierley called Teesside Crown Court to tell them how he had overheard his girlfriend on the phone with a juror involved in the lengthy trial.
The 30-year-old’s call resulted in the woman being isolated from the rest of the jury while an investigation was carried out by police and court officials.
Teesside Crown Court heard that the case involved six defendants accused of being at the centre of a Class A supply network.
Emma Newton, John Eddy and Daniel Perry were convicted in December last year for being involved in the supply of 103kg of cocaine and heroin, worth more than £10m in a helicopter drugs plot.
Dr Christopher Wood, prosecuting, said that Brierley had gone to police as he ‘didn’t think it was right as the jury were having these discussions’.
However, the juror denied that she knew any of the defendants at all.
Enquiries were made into the contents of her mobile phone, which found that there had been no contact between the juror and Brierley’s partner.
Brierley, of Bolckow Road, Grangetown, near Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Edward Moss, in mitigation, said that his client had been under pressure from others involved in the case who he refused to name for fear of repercussion.
Mr Moss said Brierley had 11 previous convictions but none of a similar offence.
Addressing Brierley, Judge Howard Crowson, said: “You tried to derail the trial.”
Mr Moss said: “He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He wishes to say through me today his sincere apologies, he knows the serious nature of the crime. He had no direct contact with any jurors and it was not for a direct financial gain.
“There had been a breakdown of a previous relationship and he turned to drugs – hundreds of pounds worth of cocaine a week it transpires that’s where the contact came from.
“He cannot reveal the names of those people who set up this escapade.
“This is his first time in custody. He hasn’t found prison easy at all.”
Judge Crowson said: “On October 15 last year the jury was to try six defendants for Class A drugs in this area. It had already been necessary to discharge one juror for health reasons, 11 jurors remained. You made a phone call claiming you were aware jury was in deliberation.”
Brierley was jailed for 18 months with the judge saying he would not be released before he served nine months in prison.
He was also ordered to pay a £149 surcharge.