An international footballer was court offside today after a judge told him he was not famous enough to be exempt – from JURY SERVICE.
Angry Carl Fletcher – captain of League One side Plymouth Argyle – was first called up to sit on a jury in June.
Midfielder Carl, 30, a former Welsh international, was on holiday with his wife and three children at the time and was granted a deferment.
But when he was re-listed for duty he told the court he was not available because of work commitments.
Carl was then told to attend Plymouth Crown Court to show ”good cause” why he should not be a juror on a trial.
He explained that he could not sit on the jury next week because of a scheduled away match at Cheltenham Town on Tuesday.
But Judge Francis Gilbert QC said the match was ”not a valid excuse” and that Fletcher was less famous than other previous jury members.
Fletcher then said he was a well know face around Plymouth in Devon – before storming out of the courtroom.
Judge Francis told him: ”Jury service is an important public duty everyone has to do, including judges, however well-known they are.
”Captaining Plymouth Argyle is not sufficient reason for not doing jury service. Employers are required to give you time off for jury service as a matter of law.
”So far, what you’ve said is not sufficient. You will have to come next Monday unless you make a proper application.
”Lots of well-known people, some more famous than you, have been required to sit on juries.”
Fletcher appeared in court on Wednesday to argue the case that he was too well known, adding: ”I don’t want anything to come back on me for sitting on a jury.”
The heated exchange began when Fletcher, wearing a grey sweatshirt and dark blue jeans, strode into the witness box clutching a letter from one of the Argyle directors.
He told the judge he had planned to travel with the team next Monday to Cheltenham Town to prepare for Tuesday evening’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match.
But Judge Gilbert told him he should have written to the court saying when he would not be available – but Fletcher replied he had not been able to plan his work commitments.
Judge Gilbert told him he could travel on the day of the game, and if required for a trial that day would still have time to drive or be driven to the match for the 7.45pm kick-off after court closed around 4pm.
The Judge also added that potential jurors had to serve within 12 months of being called unless excused.
He said Fletcher would be one of 12 jurors, and if he felt threatened ”in any way” he should report it to the police.
Judge Gilbert explained the only two reasons for exclusion from jury service were previous convictions or ”mental disorder”, asking if either applied to him.
The midfielder replied: ”You’ll have to ask my wife on that one.”
Carl then unsuccessfully demanded the judge’s name and stormed out of the court, adding: ”I am glad I have to pay my taxes to do jury service.”
Fletcher, a former Wales international started his career at Bournemouth before moving to West Ham United in 2004.
He also played for Watford, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest before signing for Plymouth Argyle last year.
A spokesman for Plymouth Argyle refused to comment.
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