23 Oct 2009

Court of Appeal inquiry ordered into guilty verdicts

2:17 pm on 23 October 2009

The Court of Appeal has ordered an inquiry following a claim that a man was found guilty of rape after a juror could not face the stress of further deliberations.

Iowane Seru Sucuturaga was last year convicted in Greymouth District Court on three charges of sexual offending and jailed for 10 years.

Lawyer Phillip Hall appealed against the convictions, saying issues had been raised in a letter received from one of the trial jurors.

A Court of Appeal ruling quotes the letter as saying the jury was "at a stalemate" on the third day of deliberations when it heard it would spend another night in a hotel if it could not reach an agreement.

The letter cited says the juror in question could not face that and just wanted to go home, as the stress was taking its toll.

The court says it could be argued the jury was placed under undue pressure to deliver verdicts and there are grounds to suggest an improper compromise was reached. It has ordered further inquiries be held.