16 Aug 2010

Decision soon on access to juror details - minister

4:33 pm on 16 August 2010

Justice Minister Simon Power is looking closely at whether addresses should be included on lists of jurors after a convicted killer managed to contact a juror hearing charges against him.

George Baker, who murdered teenager Liam Ashley in a prison van in 2006, was found guilty in a separate case of kidnapping, threatening to kill and assault with an offensive weapon arising from an incident at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo last year.

Baker defended himself during the trial, which allowed him access to the jurors' details.

A woman juror contacted police during the trial complaining that Baker had written to her.

Mr Power met Ministry officials on Monday, and, his spokesperson says, will be making a decision within weeks.

Law Society criminal law committee chairman Jonathan Krebs told Morning Report anyone representing themselves in court should be shown, but not left a copy of, the jury list.

However, the Ministry of Justice has made clear that Baker viewed the jury lists under direct supervision by court staff and was at no time able to remove the lists, or any part of them, from the court.

Video link could be used - lawyer

Simon Moore QC, who prosecuted Baker for Liam Ashley's death, suggests high-risk offenders who have already been jailed make their future court appearances by video link.

He says video appearances beginning soon between Mt Eden prison and an Auckland District courtroom could easily be extended for the few offenders who pose a flight risk, or whose lawyers cannot control them.

While such a model would not prevent access to jury information, he says, it would avoid the threatening behaviour shown by prisoners such as Baker in court.