Double murder trial aborted for 'highly unlikely' issue
A MURDER trial over the deaths of Robert Martinez and Chantal Barnett has been aborted on the second day.
The trial of Ian Robert Armstrong and Daniel George Hong had only sat for one day before it was revealed that two jury members had a connection to one of the people involved in the trial, unbeknown to them.
Justice Graeme Crow said the issue was bought to light this morning and the options were to dismiss just the two jury members and run the trial, leaving a risk of other jurors being dismissed at a later stage and leaving a panel of 11.
The court heard one of the defence barristers would "resist a verdict of only 11 jurors".
"The predicted highly unlikely consequence of two related persons out of a panel of over a hundred actually being selected upon an extended jury of 14 is very low," Justice Crow said.
"This was not anticipated.
"In balancing the risks it is my view that it is proper to discharge the entire jury and to recommence the trial at 10am tomorrow."
The jury had heard the opening addresses from crown prosecutor Vicki Loury, Mr Hong's defence barrister Stephen Kissick and Mr Armstrong's defence barrister Andrew Hoare.
They had also heard evidence from six of the 80 witnesses.
The court heard today the trial is now expected to take two weeks rather than the four original set.