Juror Ian Higgins fined at the High Court in Glasgow for 'sleeping' through proceedings

A juror who declared he had "zero interest" in a trial and was called out for appearing to sleep during proceedings has been fined £400.

Ian Higgins was selected for jury duty in September but was said to have "expressed displeasure" at having to attend court in a telephone call a day before the ballot.

As the trial got under way, Higgins told the macer, other jurors and substitutes he had "zero interest" in the case as he did not want to be there, adding: "You will not get my attention at no point."

Having been spoken to by the clerk, who explained he did not have valid reasons to be excused and that the trial would be relatively short, Higgins replied: "That's fine but I just want to highlight to you that I have zero interest. I will just sit there like a statue."

While the indictment was being read to the court, the clerk had to pause twice as Higgins "appeared to be sleeping".

Both the prosecution and defence teams pointed out he made a "deliberate show of closing his eyes as if he was not participating" and called for him to be replaced by a substitute.

Higgins was dismissed from the jury and charged with contempt of court, due to his refusal to carry out the duties required of a juror.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday.

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Judge Young said: "The role of the juror does not simply require presence at court. It also requires participation in the trial process.

"This involves listening to the evidence, speeches and legal directions, participating in the deliberations, and voting on a verdict.

"A juror who sits like a statue and does not give his attention is not carrying out the duties of a juror. He is therefore thwarting the administration of justice.

"His actions are deliberately directed at and threaten to interfere with the authority of the court and the administration of justice."

'This cannot be regarded as a single spontaneous comment'

The trial, which included a charge of rape, lasted a week, with Judge Young praising the substitute juror who "did not shirk her responsibility".

The judge noted: "Your behaviour had twice been drawn to the attention of those present in court, but you did not either change the way you behaved or offer any explanation.

"This cannot be regarded as a single spontaneous comment that you immediately regretted. This was a stance that you adopted and expressed throughout your appearance at court."

In mitigation, Higgins was said to have been experiencing issues with his mental health after the breakdown of a long-term relationship and had been prescribed medication by his GP.

It was further stated that the nature of the charges when read out in court triggered memories of events in the personal life of someone close to him.

However, Judge Young highlighted that Higgins chose not to mention this to court staff.

He added: "Individual decisions on whether jurors can be excused are made on a case-by-case basis.

"However, the two matters that you have now raised would at the very least have been matters that court staff and the judge would have considered carefully if they had been disclosed.

"Instead, by your own account, you repeatedly chose to conceal the true reasons for your reluctance. You repeatedly gave false reasons and acted in court in a way that aroused concern.

"Be clear about this: it is not contempt of court for a person to be genuinely unable to sit as a juror in a particular trial. This is a common occurrence.

"Instead, it is your deliberate and repeated behaviour, including statements that you now say were false, made openly in front of the other jurors, that brings about these contempt proceedings."