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Why the Anglo jury won't all get to decide on the verdict

Fifteen jurors were sworn in for the trial this morning, but only twelve will get to decide on the verdict.

Sean FitzPatrick arrives in court this morning.
Sean FitzPatrick arrives in court this morning.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Updated 4.47pm

JURORS AT THE trial of three former senior executives from the now-defunct Anglo Irish Bank have been told that they will not all get to decide on the verdict.

Counsel for the prosecution Paul O’Higgins told the jury that even though there are 15 of them, just 12 jurors will decide on the verdict on the charges against the three men.

It is the first time in the history of the State that a jury of 15 people – rather than the usual 12 – has heard a case.

O’Higgins said that the higher-than-usual number of jurors was selected because the State requires that at least 10 people sit on a jury, and given the predicted length of the trial, it was more likely than usual that some would have to drop out.

“At times jurors get sick, jurors die,” O’Higgins told the court.

He said it was a “slightly savage system” given the public duty that the jurors were about to undertake that they would not all get to decide on the verdict.

Instead, a public ballot will take place to choose 12 jurors out of the remaining number who will then proceed to give a verdict.

O’Higgins said that it could be a “very frustrating thing” for the jurors who don’t get to decide on the verdict but said that “in circumstances it could be a liberating thing”.

He was speaking as he made his opening remarks in the trial of Seán Fitzpatrick of Greystones in Wicklow, the former chair of Anglo, Patrick Whelan of Malahide, the former MD of lending in Ireland, and Willie McAteer of Auburn Villas in Rathmines in Dublin, the former chief risk officer and finance director of the bank.

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All three have pleaded not guilty to charges under section 60 of the Companies Act of counts of providing unlawful financial assistance to people – including the so-called Maple 10 – in 2008 to buy shares in the ailing bank.

The trial began just after 10.30am this morning. The trial is expected to run until 31 May.

Originally published 1.58pm

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