Glasgow & West Scotland

Juror who took bribe jailed for six years

Catherine Leahy Image copyright Spindrift Photo Agency

A juror who took a bribe during a five-month money laundering and drug trafficking trial has been jailed for six years.

Catherine Leahy, 62, accepted almost £3,000 in inappropriate payments while deliberating during proceedings at the High Court in Glasgow.

The former classroom assistant was caught after police received a tip-off.

Leahy was the spokeswoman on a jury which acquitted an alleged drug dealer. The case now faces possible retrial.

It is the first case of its type in Scottish legal history. No jurors have previously been prosecuted in Scotland for corrupt behaviour.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Turnbull said sending Leahy to prison was the only option open to him.

He said: "In my judgement to agree to accept a bribe from or on behalf of the accused while serving as a juror in that high court trial involved conduct that is such a serious breach of the public duty that forms a cornerstone of our freedom.

"It is thoroughly obvious that a lengthy custodial sentence is merited in such circumstances."

'Extremely difficult'

During proceedings last month at the High Court in Glasgow, prosecutor Iain McSporran QC told the court that police discovered four payments of £300, £1,000, £1,200 and £330 were made into Leahy's accounts between 19 April and 2 June 2016.

The court heard how the officers concluded that Leahy had been bribed.

In court, Leahy denied the accusations and claimed the money came from a cheque for £7,446 from a British Shipbuilders pension and a savings club.

The case was launched the day following the verdict in the trial of Graham Clarke and others.

The procurator fiscal's office in Glasgow received a tip-off that members of the jury in the case had been paid.

After suspicion fell on Leahy, her home in Springboig was bugged from 19 September to 30 September 2016.

The decision to carry out surveillance followed a meeting between the Scotland's most senior prosecutor the Lord Advocate and Scotland's most senior judge, the Lord President.

Image caption Catherine Leahy was caught following a tip-off to police

Leahy shared the property with her 22-year-old son Joseph, who originally stood trial with his mother. The charges against him were dropped.

The bug recorded 31 conversations between Leahy and her son.

Jurors heard one conversation in which Joseph said: "Mum, it wasn't just you that got bribed so that now when they come to you, you're a step ahead."

His mum replied: "There is nothing that can link you with them."

She served as a juror in the trial of Mr Clarke, his wife Lindsay and others which ran from November 2015 to April 2016.

Maintained innocence

All the charges against Mr Clarke were found not proven and his wife was convicted of mortgage fraud.

Following conviction, Lord Turnbull remanded Leahy in custody and deferred sentence for the court to obtain reports.

On Thursday, the court heard that Leahy still maintained she was innocent of all wrongdoing.

Defence advocate Thomas Ross QC said his client had battled health problems and had cared for her parents and husband before they died.

He also said prison would be "extremely difficult" for Leahy.

However, Lord Turnbull told Leahy that jail was the only sentence available to him.

He added: "The evidence in this case was the product of a listening device which was placed in your home. It provided overwhelming proof of your guilt in this matter.

"Your evidence to this court in which you denied your actions was quite ridiculous."

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