SEVEN men who were involved in a plot to derail a manslaughter trial by bribing and intimidating jurors have been handed prison sentences totalling more than 48 years.
The gang was sentenced today over the plot which included attempts to offer jury members bribes of £500.
A fire alarm at Leeds Crown Court was also deliberately set off and jurors were filmed by gang members as they gathered at an assembly point outside the building.
Another juror was also followed through Leeds city centre and ran into a bar to ask for help after being followed one of the conspirators.
Two of the men - former law student Sharear Islam-Miah and Abdilahi Ahmed - were found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by interfering with the deliberations of members of a jury. Five others pleaded guilty to the same charge.
The charges were in relation to a ‘cash for crash’ manslaughter trial held at the court in February this year.
The plot failed after the judge in the case took the unusual step of dismissing the jury and trying the case alone.
One of the defendants - Jonaade Hussain - is a qualified solicitor. Jonaade and his brother Raja Hussain were also sentenced for firearms and explosives offences after being found guilty at a trial earlier this year.
Raja Hussain is currently serving a 15 year sentence for his involvement in the original cash for crash manslaughter. He will now have to serve a total sentence of 30 years.
Jailing the jury tampering conspirators, judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: “Anyone doing their public duty as a juror should not be forced to experience emotions and fears such as these.
“The jury system is the cornerstone of a free judicial system. It has been for hundreds of years. It will remain so in spite of the actions of people like you.
“The public is entitled to know that the integrity of the jury system is and will remain uncompromised.”
Three men were on trial in February over their involvement in a deliberately-staged collision in Beeston in which pensioner Betty Laird, 88, died from injuries sustained in the collision.
Those involved in the conspiracy sought to get the jury to return not guilty verdicts or to disrupt the case in order to secure a retrial.
A 15-year-old girl was “recruited” by the gang to approach three jurors as they left the court building on Oxford Row, in Leeds city centre.
Police were able to bring prosecutions after examining hundreds of hours of CCTV footage from inside and around the court and cameras in Leeds city centre.
Images showed a car being slowly driven down Park Street, at the rear of the court building, as jurors were filmed after the fire evacuation.
Footage from the front of the building showed ‘sentinels’ waiting outside the building to follow jurors.
Other images showed three jurors being followed along the Headrow by the girl who approached them to offer the cash bribes.
Security cameras also captured some of the involved in the plot entering the building shortly before the plan was put in place.
Those sentenced for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice were:
Raja Hussain, 31, of no fixed address, jailed for 15 years
Jonaade Hussain, 27, of Ring Road, Beeston, jailed for 15 years
Shahrear Islam-Miah, 27, of no fixed address, jailed for six years.
Abdilahi Ahmed, 26, of Lincoln Towers, Burmantofts, jailed for four years, six months.
Waqas Ahmad, of Hamilton Avenue, jailed for two years, nine months
Zafarullah Ahmad, 21, of Hamilton Avenue, jailed for two years
Jamie Lee Lawson, 28, of Bayswater Grove, Harehills, jailed for three years, one month.