Thursday, September 1, 2011
Hearts Fan John Wilson cleared of assault on Neil Lennon as jury delivers totally bizarre verdict, Wilson's confession and videotape and not enough!
Yesterday saw a bizarre verdict by a jury in the Neil Lennon assault case.
The guy who admitted assaulting him had the charge found not proven.
Out the window also went the sectarian parts of the charges as well.
John Wilson was found guilty of breach of the peace only.
As I say, it is a bizarre verdict to come from the jury which proves that some kind of training is appropriate.
Anyone more or less can sit on a jury, you need no qualifications but there are some people who are exempt from jury service.
You don’t need to be able to read, write or even spell; you don’t even get asked do you know the difference between right and wrong.
I have served on a jury and it isn’t easy because there is sometimes a reluctance to convict, even if the jury think they are guilty.
However juries are an important safeguard that society cannot do without, as we saw in the Shirley McKie case, the Police, The Crown and Fingerprint Service, all arms of the State were more than happy to work together to put an innocent woman in prison.
For that reason, we need juries.
CELTIC Football Club said the acquittal of John Wilson, a Hearts supporter on charges of assaulting manager Neil Lennon was “difficult to comprehend”
A jury of seven women and eight men took two-and-a-half hours yesterday to convict Wilson of conducting himself in a disorderly manner, running on to the pitch, running at the away team dug-out, shouting, swearing, causing further disturbance to the crowd there and breaching the peace.
It sounds a lot but viewing the tape in all took place in a matter of seconds.
The jury deleted the reference to making a sectarian remark from the charge and that the offence was aggravated by religious prejudice.
A witness during the trial said that Wilson called Neil Lennon a “Fenian b******.”
The video footage shows that Neil Lennon was assaulted, which is why so many including Celtic officials were incensed by the not proven verdict for charge two.
In a strongly worded statement, the club said:
“It is for the jury to decide on this case. However, we find the accused’s acquittal of the charge of assault difficult to comprehend bearing in mind our knowledge of the incident. This was a disgraceful incident involving Neil Lennon, seen by the world, the sort of incident which should not have happened in any football stadium and one which embarrassed Scottish football. As always, we will give Neil Lennon our full support and hope that this season he can be given the opportunity to be allowed to do his job without the kind of threats, attacks and intimidation which have marred much of his time in Scotland.”
During the trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court the jury was shown footage, heard a confession by Wilson via his lawyer, Neil Lennon and various witnesses.
On the assault aspect it was the classic open and shut case.
Peter Croy, 61, operations director of G4S, claimed he heard Wilson shout:
“Lennon, you Fenian b******.”
Wilson denied that was what he said and told the court he had simply sworn at the manager.
Sheriff Fiona Reith, QC, deferred sentence until next month for reports and remanded Wilson in custody.
An odd verdict, it would be interesting to sit down that jury and ask how they reached their verdict.
Despite getting it wrong which is their right, we need juries and should think very carefully how to improve them, not to secure more convictions which would be wrong but help them understand better what is going on and their role in it.
I have said for a long time that people on juries need training before being allowed to sit on one.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University