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WA juror claimed he was threatened

AAP logoAAP 29/07/2016

Claims of juror threats and an assault in a toilet almost threatened to overturn a pedophile's conviction after the West Australian Court of Appeal was forced to investigate.

Mark Sharne Smith was found guilty in January 2012 of two counts of indecently dealing with a girl under 13 but the foreman left behind a note claiming he had been physically intimidated.

"I have been physically coerced by a fellow juror to change my plea to be aligned with the majority vote," the note read.

The WA Court of Appeal dismissed Smith's argument against his conviction but was ordered by the High Court to conduct an inquiry into the jurors.

The findings were released on Friday and again the Court of Appeal rejected the case.

"The foreman agreed to join in those verdicts of his own volition and although there was robust discussion during the course of the jury's deliberations, the foreman was not subjected to any improper or unlawful duress or coercion," WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin found.

He noted juror 217 - the alleged offender - could not remember much about the trial but recalled a man who was "very much opposed to the defendant being found guilty and he expressed his views quite forcefully".

The juror denied forcing the foreman against a toilet wall or threatening him that unless he changed his verdict, he would have the "s*** kicked out of him".

Chief Justice Martin also accepted juror 217, who did not have a lawyer at the inquiry despite knowing police were considering criminal charges, was argumentative.

"I was part of (something) that I never chose to be part of and here we are two years later being recalled to answer to false allegations and malicious allegations," juror 217 told the inquiry.

The foreman said he told jurors he had been the victim of child abuse and juror 217 told him: "People who were fiddled with tend to become fiddlers themselves. Are you protecting a pedophile because you are one yourself?"

But the other jurors contradicted both of those allegations.

The foreman said things "got ugly" and he withdrew from active deliberations, sitting in the corner and rolling his eyes and "tutting" in response to the discussions.

Other jurors gave similar accounts about the foreman's withdrawal and Chief Justice Martin said he accepted it was plausible the foreman was "sulking because he was not getting his way".

Justice Robert Mazza agreed with the finding, adding "the shadow of injustice has been dispelled".

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