A JURY foreman from the New Forest caused a five-week trial to collapse after he began conducting his own research into one of the defendants.

Alan Frankcom started to explore the financial background of gym boss Danny Harkins, one of six people who were on trial over the kidnap of businessman Richard Baker.

Following a five-week hearing jury members were sent out to decide the fate of the defendants.

But Frankcom began conducting his own research into the financial background of Harkins – something which jurors are banned from doing during a trial.

The 51-year-old told a fellow jury member about his research and trial judge Peter Henry halted the trial.

Appearing at Southampton Crown Court Frankcom was handed a suspended prison sentence for his actions.

Prosecutor David Reid said the father-of-two used Google to access Companies House, where he attempted to find financial records relating to Harkins.

Once discovered, he was questioned by Judge Henry and admitted carrying out research.

He also admitted his actions in a police interview.

Frankcom, of Lymington Road, Lymington, was subsequently charged and pleaded guilty to carrying out research during a trial period – an offence under the Juries Act.

Mitigating, Chris Gaiger told the court that Frankcom had “undermined the integrity of the criminal justice system” and his actions had crossed the custody threshold.

But he said Frankcom was previously of good character.

Frankcom was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

He was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work as well as paying £535 in costs and £4,200 compensation to the Crown Prosecution Service for the collapse of the trial.

Judge Christopher Parker told him: “It is very unfortunate you should end up here having carried out your public service.

“But you know now, if you didn’t before, how serious the oath is taken by the jury service and by the courts.”

Following a retrial Harkins and the other defendants were jailed for a total of 43 years.