Jurors in the court trial involving construction boss George Alex and five others who were charged with embezzling over $13 million in unpaid taxes, have received a warning that any information found beyond the courts could have “disastrous” consequences.
On Monday, February 12, eighty prospective jurors were transported by bus to the NSW Supreme Court in Darlinghurst, Sydney for the commencement of the fraud trial.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the trial is expected to span across six months or longer, as suggested by Justice Desmond Fagan.
Prosecutors claim that George Alex, along with his son Arthur Alex, Mark Ronald Bryers, Gordon McAndrew, Lindsay John Kirschberg, and Pasquale Loccisano, worked together to take millions of dollars in pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding tax from the wages and salaries of labour hire workers.
They allegedly used a complicated network of businesses, causing the Australian Taxation Office to lose money.
On Monday, the Judge told the 15 jurors selected to preside over the trial, which will eventually become 12, that they were “absolutely forbidden” to research the matter online.
The Judge made reference to the sexual assault trial of Bruce Lehrmann in the ACT, where a juror was found to have researched “crimes of a nature that were alleged against the accused.”
“The consequence was that trial was aborted, and for other reasons, it’s never been resumed,” Judge Fagan told the jury of 11 men and four women.
The judge described the potential consequence of the juror’s researching information for the George Alex trial as “disastrous.”
Judge Fagan said the accused men of the case were each entitled to the presumption of innocence, and it was for the Crown to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
The trial is set to continue, with the Crown prosecutor’s opening address is expected to run for four days.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald.