The Jury: Murder Trial real life crime

The Jury: Murder Trial – what’s the real-life case behind the trial? What Channel 4 has said

A real life murder trial is restaged by actors in front of two different juries

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The Jury: Murder Trial on Channel 4 re-stages a real-life crime in front of two different juries in a legal experiment that raises some serious questions about the justice system.

Warning: Don’t expect to sleep soundly after watching this. The four-part series airs over consecutive nights this week. It will make you confront some uncomfortable truths – that a jury can’t always be trusted.

The two juries of 12 people (who know nothing of the other) listen to the evidence put before them, and must come to a conclusion about the guilt of the accused. But will both juries come to the same conclusion?

Although the evidence in The Jury: Murder Trial is based on a real-life crime, Channel 4 has changed the names, and locations. But why? Here’s everything you need to know.

The Jury: Murder Trial cast
The Jury: Murder Trial is based on a real life crime (Credit: Channel 4)

Is The Jury: Murder Trial based on a real life crime?

Channel 4’s bold legal experiment The Jury: Murder Trial IS based on a real life crime. The channel has changed names and locations, but the testimony, witness statements, and basic facts are the same.

The events in The Jury: Murder Trial are restaged by actors. They re-enact word for word what happened during a real life trial in the past. The central case is a particularly complex one. It involves a husband who killed his wife with a hammer, but denied murder.

The husband – called John Risedale in the show, but this is not his real name – killed his wife ‘Helen’, admitted to killing her, but argued a “loss of control” defence because he didn’t fully remember what he did or why he did it. The two different juries – one red and one blue – must decide if he should be convicted of murder or manslaughter.

From the outset, it’s clear the jurors have different opinions, life experiences, and prejudices that affect the outcome of the trial. Not all of the opinions are balanced. And, therein, lies the potential problem with a very human jury.

In fact, some criminologists believe that real life juries may reach the wrong verdict in up to a quarter of cases. Watching this, it’s terrifyingly easy to see why.

One of the juries deliberate their verdict on The Jury: Murder Trial on Channel 4
The blue jury – Liberty, Lorell, Ollie, Sonia, WIlliam, Emily, Jodie, Junior, Aaron, Sacha – debate their verdict on The Jury: Murder Trial (Credit: Channel 4)

Why can’t C4 reveal the real names behind the series?

A spokesperson for Channel 4 told ED! that “details of the real crime will not be confirmed”. Although they did not tell us why, we can only assume it’s because of issues of privacy.

However, it’s clearly a moral dilemma. A very rudimentary search on Google led us quickly to what is quite obviously the real-life case behind the show.

The husband killed his newlywed wife just months after marrying. He killed her with several blows to the head by a hammer, after a row in which he “snapped”.

Read more: Bargain Hunt star Charles Hanson ‘to appear in court after being charged with assault and coercive behaviour’

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The Jury: Murder Trial airs over four consecutive nights from Monday, February 26, 2024 at 9pm on Channel 4.

What do you think of The Jury: Murder Trial on Channel 4 so far? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor