Juror at Pacteau’s first trial complained he “could not hear evidence”

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ALEXANDER Pacteau was free to murder Karen Buckley after he escaped conviction for attempted rape and sexual assault just two years earlier.

And it can be revealed that during that trial in 2013, a juror made an official complaint that he had not been able to hear all the victim’s courtroom testimony.

Official court documents show that the juror, who cannot be named for legal reasons, “experienced very considerable difficulty” hearing what was being said during the High Court trial sitting in Paisley Sheriff Court.

In his note, the juror – who said he had experience of installing sound systems – gave a detailed criticism of the poor setup in the court, concluding: “It seems unlikely that jury members will be able to honestly say that they heard all the evidence presented in court.”

The same juror said he had also experienced difficulty in hearing the testimony of the crime scene examiner in court 1 at Paisley Sheriff Court.

Pacteau was charged with the sexual assault and attempted rape of a Glasgow woman in Baliol Lane in the city in the early hours of November 27, 2011.

Pacteau was alleged to have forced her to the ground and attempt to perform a number of sexual acts on her.

After pleading “not guilty” to the charges his case came to court on February 1 2013.

The documents surrounding the case, which were provided by an official at the High Court record office in Parliament Square, Edinburgh, show that the concerned juror submitted his note after the two witnesses for the prosecution had taken to the stand – just two days before Pacteau was found not guilty.

On that first day of the trial the police crime scene examiner gave their evidence, after which the alleged victim gave testimony to the court from behind a screen.

But after the first two witnesses, one juror claimed that the court soundsystem was being improperly operated – meaning the jury had not heard the testimony.

Karen Buckley, Glasgow, 15, April, 2015
The second day of police searching for the missing student

 

The juror submitted two notes to the court on February 4 – one a technical outline of the problems with the sound system at the court and the other a plea for the problem to be addressed in the courtroom.

In his statement the juror claims that he is an experienced public speaker with experience of installing sound systems in auditoriums.

He then offers an in depth criticism of the court setup, pointing the blame at court supervisors for the “poorly placed loudspeakers.”

He goes on: “as far as I can see from the installation, almost all of the sound is being projected about 8 or 10 feet above the ears of the listeners.”

He then adds: “many a sound system that is expensively specified and appropriately installed fails to do its job because it is not operated properly.”

In a following note submitted to the court, the juror said that the jury had “experienced very considerable difficulty” in hearing the testimony of the witnesses owing to “insufficient volume.”

His letter reads: “ It was noted that both advocates repeatedly asked the second witness” – the victim – “to speak up. Even so, there was insufficient volume for the jury.”

“The booklets of photographs Crown Productions 30 and 31 proved helpful in deducing what was being said by the first witness.

“It is respectfully suggested that the problem is not the fault of the witnesses. Some people have voices that naturally operate at low sound pressure levels.

“Further, either through nerves in a court setting or through physical makeup, they may be simply unable to carry out instructions to speak loud enough to reach all ears in the court.

“It is the function of sound reinforcement systems to compensate for that deficiency and in the 21st century it is certainly possible to specify and to operate a system that will adequately reinforce quiet voices so that evidence can be heard in Court 1 of Paisley Sheriff Court.”

“For now it is requested that if possible the sound amplifier is turned up to a higher setting.

“If sound conditions continue at Friday’s level it seems unlikely that jury members will be able to honestly say that they heard all the evidence presented in court.”

Notes from the trial provide no further record of the sound system being altered in any way, but it is known that Pacteau gave his evidence on February 6 and was found not guilty by majority verdict the following day.

Pacteau’s first case was significantly postponed after he suffered injuries in a car accident in 2012.

The case came to court on January 31 2013, where his advocate asked for a doctor’s opinion on Pacteau’s mental health – although a doctor confirmed he was “fit to give evidence” and “fit to stand trial.”

The doctor’s notes – also provided by records managers at the High Court – read that Pacteau’s defence counsel had raised concerns that he was “paranoid or delusional.”

But the medical professional described Pacteau as “alert, calm, cooperative”, “not psychotic or suicidal”, “polite, pleasant, articulate” with “good rapport and eye contact”

The police search for Karen Buckley, who was found dead earlier this year
The police search for Karen Buckley, who was found dead earlier this year

 

The note concludes, that Pacteau “as far as can be ascertained is not suffering from paranoid delusions” although he had “lost trust and respect for the police” since his arrest.

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “There’s a huge gap between the number of sexual assaults and the number of incidences of domestic violence and the number of men convicted of them.

“We need a better access to an advocacy system and we need to be much more serious about access to the criminal justice system.

She added: “I feel so bad for the friends and family of this woman. It’s so hard to see this happen time and time again.

“Yes, the criminal justice system needs to be reformed but we really need to come to terms with out culture that allows this to happen.

“It’s about equality, it’s about entitlement. We really need to get serious about addressing the context in which so much assault and sexual assault happens.”

The Scottish Conservatives yesterday called for the Crown Office to look into the revelations, calling them “unacceptable”.

MSP Alex Johnstone said: “It’s alarming to hear that there were technical difficulties in a previous case.

“These blunders are unacceptable and highlight an under resourced justice system which is already cracking under strain.

“The Crown Office should look into this as a matter of urgency. Once again it is the victims of crime, their families and friends who are made to suffer.

“This was a distressing and evil crime and Alexander Pacteau is obviously a very dangerous man.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said: “During the course of a trial, witnesses for many reasons speak quietly or away from microphones.

“Juries are directed by the Court to immediately raise any concerns, including the ability to hear witnesses during the trial. Any concerns raised by a juror would be immediately acted upon by the Court.”

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