A pensioner who was accused of killing his partner and then confessing to his pet cats was cleared of murder and manslaughter today – and then hugged by members of the jury before leaving the courtroom.
Mr Henton, 73, from Neath, South Wales, was accused of brutally bludgeoning his long-term partner, Joyce Sutton, to death after "snapping" in January 2006.
There were gasps from the public gallery at Swansea Crown Court as the forewoman of the jury declared Mr Henton not guilty of either murder or the alternative charge of manslaughter.
I have not heard of jury members hugging a defendant before. I have had a few hugs before when I have managed to get Client's acquitted of matters.
The jury system seems to be breaking down as jurors are either speaking out about decisions they did not agree with, or they seek some kind of fame from the trial that they were involved in. As an advocate who regularly appears at the Magistrates Courts I am used to the bench making decisions and then giving reasons for those decisions. A lot of the time the reasoning for the decision appears to be based on a 'stock' answer - but nonetheless they give a reason for their decision. Juries do not give reasons for their decisions, and in fact, that is the great mystery of the jury system. The deliberations in the jury room are matters that are not subject to any scrutiny, because the deliberations are confidential.
What will a jury member do next? Perhaps they can disagree with the majority verdict given and assist a defendant appeal against conviction based on their knowledge of the reasoning behind the decision?