A man has been found not guilty of stealing a banana after a crown court trial costing £20,000. Skip related content
Related photos / videos Banana Theft Trial Costs Taxpayer £20,000 Enlarge photo The Crown Prosecution Service has defended its decision to proceed with the case despite the cost to the taxpayer.
The district crown prosecutor for Birmingham said the case of James Gallagher had only been heard at the city's Crown Court because the defendant had elected trial by jury.
Mr Gallagher was found not guilty earlier this week of burglary and the theft of the piece of fruit, worth 25p, from Birmingham's Bullring shopping centre.
Speaking after the verdicts, Mr Gallagher, of Linwood Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, said he was relieved he had chosen a Crown Court trial.
He said he believed that magistrates would have found him guilty.
The 23-year-old told the Wolverhampton Express and Star: "It's shocking, it's just a waste of taxpayers' money."
It had been alleged that Mr Gallagher entered an Italian restaurant before it opened and stole the banana.
In a statement, the district crown prosecutor for Birmingham, Martin Lindop, said: "We recommended this matter was suitable to be dealt with in the magistrates' court.
"However, Mr James Gallagher elected trial by jury, as is his right, so the case was heard in the Crown Court.
"It is not the cost of the item that determines whether we proceed with a prosecution, but whether there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest.
"In this case, we felt that there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest for the prosecution to proceed."