Amidst swirling accusations of bullying, abuse and one juror's refusal to properly deliberate, a judge has discharged jurors in a swim coach's child sex abuse trial without handing down any verdicts.
On Wednesday, NSW District Court Judge Michael King ordered that the jury be discharged after 16 days of debating whether Paul Douglas Frost was guilty or not guilty of 43 separate counts of child sexual abuse.
The judge found there was no longer any confidence that any verdicts would be untainted given the allegations that emerged through three jury notes handed up on Wednesday morning.
"In my view, it would always be open to challenge any conviction recorded ... on the basis of the deterioration in the jury's relationship to each other," Judge King said.
"I will discharge the jury because of the significant uncertainty that any verdict would be tainted by the breakdown in the jury's consideration of the matters."
Frost, whose father coached Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe, has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing 11 students at a swim school in southwest Sydney in the 1990s and 2000s.
The three jury notes revealed tense, argumentative discussions between jurors in which only five verdicts had been reached.
The jury did not divulge whether it had found the 46-year-old Frost guilty or not guilty on those charges, and said it remained split on the other 38 counts.
"There were occasions when, due to the frustration and anxiety felt generally, it caused tempers to fray and voices to be raised. I was among others guilty of less than acceptable behaviour," one juror wrote.
"In my case this was triggered by the abusive address of a female juror which I was quick to defend."
The notes claimed that one juror originally found Frost guilty on one count but then changed their mind because they could not bear to declare a "pedophile innocent on the basis of a technicality".
This went against the presumption of innocence, another juror wrote.
In a note referring to two jurors, the complainants in the matter were referred to by one jury member as "naughty little boys" and another reportedly said "stuff the judge," when asked to follow the court's directions.
One of them also refused to accept that it was inappropriate as a coach to encourage their students to masturbate.
"The general impression that myself and others have received from it all is a clear bias in both jurors and a refusal to participate appropriately, behaviour that some have noticed from the beginning of the trial," a juror wrote.
More general claims included an inappropriate efforts by some to pressure others and "loud, overbearing behaviour" which verged on bullying.
Judge King said he did not know whether the allegations made in these notes were true, but discharged the jury anyway.
He thanked jurors for participating in the trial and noted that trials with large numbers of charges like this were incredibly difficult.
"It almost inevitably causes significant problems and a great deal of stress," he said.
Frost will remain out on bail until the trial is reheld at a later date.