Murder trial halted as stranger takes juror’s place

A £10,000-a-day murder trial was abandoned today after a member of the public took the place of a juror.

The bizarre incident saw a man walk in off the street and take the place of a sworn-in juror, who was late arriving at the High Court in Livingston.

The man then listened to witnesses giving evidence for more than an hour and a half.

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The blunder was only discovered after the real juror arrived at court late and complained to officers that a stranger was sitting in his seat.

It’s understood the confusion may have arisen the courts share a reception desk with West Lothian Council in the Civic Centre at Livingston.

The incident happened on the second day of a murder trial.

Shaniece Dobson, 21, of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, denies murdering her boyfriend Sean Martin, 21, of Coatbridge, last February by striking him on the body with a pen and a knife.

The Crown rejected her plea of guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide before the trial began on Tuesday.

As soon as the “tainted juror” issue came to light, presiding judge Lord Boyd called an abrupt halt to the trial.

Lord Boyd said the difficulties the court had encountered were such that the trial could not continue.

He told jurors: “This trial has come to an end and will start on Monday with a new jury.”