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‘Clearly asleep’: snoring juror removed from months-long Sydney murder trial | Australia news

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A Sydney juror has been discharged from a months-long murder trial for falling asleep and snoring as it entered its final stages.

The unnamed woman was part of an extended jury of 15 hearing allegations that a hitman contracted by a Sydney drug gang ended up killing a bystander in a Guilford home in February 2017.

As the prosecution case neared its conclusion, Justice Peter Hamill noticed the juror “was clearly asleep for some period of time”.

“I made those observations because the fact of their somnolence was brought to my attention by members of my staff,” he said.

“Yesterday, members of my staff again drew my attention to the juror and each of them could not only see that they appeared to be asleep, but were of the view that they could hear them snoring.”

The NSW supreme court judge couldn’t hear the snores but it was obvious a nearby juror “was patently aware of the problem”.

The sleeping on at least four separate occasions had occurred during evidence in which police investigators were cross-examined and during the first parts of the prosecutor’s closing address, the judge said.

“The juror’s inability to remain awake … caused me to conclude that there is a reason affecting the juror’s ability to perform the functions of a juror,” Hamill said.

The judge also considered the impact on juror numbers, noting three of the 15 would be discharged once the time came for the jury to begin deliberations.

After being told she was being discharged, the juror disclosed there was a medical reason for her drowsiness.

“It should be recorded, without reference to private information, that the juror was diligent and attentive until the last week or so of the trial, and their inability to remain awake was understandable and beyond their control,” Hamill said in his reasons.

The decision, made on 3 November, came to light on Wednesday after the jury returned their verdicts in the three-month trial.

Hitman Ying Cheng Luo, aged in his mid-30s, and his associates – Jaiyu “Da Yu” Liu, 38, and Ian “Michael” Fan, 49 – were found guilty of murdering Chinese national Qin Wu, 37, and shooting with intent to kill Jun Jia on 1 February 2017.

A contract was taken out on the life of Jia after the man also known as “Little Jun” failed to pay the Big Circle gang for drugs.

Each offender will face a sentence hearing on 19 March.

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