HMA v Catherine Leahy

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 19 April 2018, Lord Turnbull sentenced Catherine Leahy to six years’ imprisonment after the accused was found guilty of accepting a bribe while serving as a juror.

On sentencing, Lord Turnbull made the following statement in court: 

“Catherine Leahy, you were convicted after trial of a contravention of section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010. 

“You denied your guilt in evidence and continue to do so now. However, the evidence in this case included evidence of a most unusual sort, namely the product of a covert listening device placed in the home which you occupied with your son Joseph. 

“As a consequence of that the jury and I were able to hear the recordings of a number of conversations which took place between you and Joseph. That evidence provided overwhelming proof of your guilt and your evidence to the contrary was at times quite ridiculous. 

“Bribery itself is an easily understood concept but the Bribery Act of 2010 provides that it is a statutory offence for a person to agree to receive or accept a financial advantage intending that, in consequence, a function of a public nature should be performed improperly. The Act provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment on conviction. 

“The definition of the offence contained within the Bribery Act is not directed specifically at jury service. It applies to many activities, including activity connected with a business or to activity connected with a corporate body. 

“The broad nature of the conduct which the Act seeks to target means that certain contraventions of the statutory provisions will, of necessity, be more or less serious than others. 

“In my judgement, to agree to accept a bribe, from or on behalf of the accused, whilst serving as a juror in a High Court trial, involves conduct which reflects such a serious breach of the public duty which forms the cornerstone of justice in our society, as to constitute conduct at the most serious end of that contemplated by the provisions of the Bribery Act. 

“The nature and seriousness of the lengthy trial in which you served as a juror, and accepted the position of spokesperson, aggravates the offence even further. 

“It is obvious that a very lengthy custodial sentence is merited by such conduct.  

“However, I must also take account of the factors ably advanced on your behalf by your counsel. 

“First, I will give effect to the fact that you have never previously offended. 

Second, I will give effect to the fact that you have a very lengthy history of “employment, some of which has been in important and responsible positions. 

“Third, I will take account of the caring and pro-social conduct which you have demonstrated over the years in the care of both of your own parents and your husband, each of whom died young and after significant suffering. 

“Fourth, and last, I will take account of your age and your own poor health. You are now 62 and I accept that you are, and have been for some time, suffering from a variety of debilitating illnesses, none of which are likely to abate. 

“These four aspects of mitigation combine to enable me to make a substantial reduction from the sentence which would otherwise have been imposed. 

“In the whole circumstances, the sentence of the court is that you should serve a period of six years’ imprisonment to date from 20 March 2018.”