The jury in a murder trial of a man accused of stabbing his girlfriend in a South Melbourne apartment has been discharged after alleged juror misconduct, a court has been told.
On Wednesday, the trial of Ricardo Barbaro 36, returned to the Supreme Court of Victoria where a frustrated Justice Lex Lasry said he had no choice but to discharge the jury.
“I’m told one of your number has made inquiries outside of this courtroom and on the internet about this case,” he said.
“This is in direct contradiction of what I told you two days ago and what I predicted would happen if such a thing occurred is now going to happen.
“You are going to have to be discharged.”
Mr Barbaro’s trial began on Monday and was told he allegedly stabbed the 26-year-old following an argument in April 2020.
He then allegedly left the Park St apartment in her white Mercedes, which was later found dumped at a farm.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke KC said it would be alleged that Ms Price’s body sat in the apartment for about six days before her concerned mother contacted police.
Ricardo Barbaro is accused of stabbing his girlfriend. Picture: David Crosling/ NCA NewsWire.Ellie Price was allegedly found murdered in her South Melbourne home on May 4. Picture: Supplied.
Mr Barbaro’s lawyer contended his client was not the last person to see her alive, suggesting her employment as a stripper put her into contact with others who may have wanted to harm her.
“Were there any other people in the world in which she lived that wanted to harm her?” he questioned.
The trial, which was expected to run for four weeks, will restart at a later date.
Jurors are only permitted to evaluate the evidence presented in court when deciding their verdict.
In this case, the empanelled jury was warned on Monday that it was a criminal offence for a juror to conduct their own investigation.
“When you go out to consider your verdict in a few weeks, you will have heard or received in court under my supervision all the information you need to make the decision you have to make,” Justice Lasry said.
“You cannot base your decision on any other information, certainly not on any information that you obtain from outside this courtroom.”
Justice Lasry told the court he would refer the alleged misconduct to the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate.
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