12/11/2013 - 15:54

‘Black direction’ for Bartlett, Sayers trial

12/11/2013 - 15:54

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Co-accused Ausdrill managing director Ron Sayers.

The judge presiding over the trial of Barminco co-founder Peter Bartlett and Ausdrill managing director Ron Sayers today ordered the jury to keep deliberating in a bid to reach a verdict.

Earlier this morning, the jury members announced they were unable to agree on a unanimous verdict for either of the men, who are accused of knowingly helping to set up a $7 million tax fraud.

Justice Eric Heenan had the choice of discharging the jury, which would have meant a retrial with a new jury, or giving a “black direction”, which requires the jurors to re-examine the matter and make another attempt to reach a verdict.

Justice Heenan said the trial, which is now in its 12th week, had included “much evidence and much to consider” and that it was possible, but not inevitable, that there may be an agreement.

Last week, after just more than a day’s deliberation, the jury found Messrs Sayers and Bartlett's fellow accused – tax scheme promoter Greg Dunn and junior accountant Deborah Grace – guilty and not guilty respectively of one charge each of defrauding the tax office.

When the jury announced their deadlock today it was also after just more than one day’s deliberation.

“Experience has shown that often juries are able to agree in the end,” Justice Heenan said.

Justice Heenan told the jury that, if after calmly considering the evidence and listening to the opinion of the other jurors, they could not honestly agree with the conclusion of the other jurors then they must give what they think is the correct verdict.

If the jury returns with another deadlock, it is understood Justice Heenan will reconsider discharging the jury without a verdict.

At 4pm today Justice Heenan called the jury back in to ask if there had been any progress and the foreman said there had been "slight movement", but he believed it was unlikely they would reach an agreement.

Justice Heenan asked the jury to reconvene again tomorrow at 10am.

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