A TRIAL was derailed by coronavirus as a judge told a jury 'these are strange times’ before urging them to wash their hands and 'stay safe' during the crisis.

The jury had already been sworn and was ready to begin hearing evidence in the trial at Worcester Crown Court yesterday when Recorder Richard Atkins QC, decided to discharge them. The decision followed an announcement by the Judicial Office that no jury trials longer than three days could be heard in England and Wales. This was to address the risk of a trial getting underway but not being able to conclude because of people becoming ill or being forced to self-isolate. This is a particular risk for trials as opposed to other hearings given the number of people involved, including the jury, judge, defendants, witnesses, barristers and court staff. A new slot was fixed for the trial in August. Recorder Atkins said: “I appreciate that’s not good news for your client or the complainant but these are strange times.”

Recorder Atkins said the risks at the moment were too great to start a trial. “As far as this longer trial is concerned I have made the decision, having heard from the barristers, to pull the plug now,” he said.

He advised the jury to go home, ‘wash your hands’ and ‘stay safe’.