PARENTS accused of murdering their premature baby have been told they will wait until 2021 for a verdict after the coronavirus forced a judge to abandon their trial.

In one of the most unusual hearings Sussex has ever seen, jurors were spread out around the historic Lewes Crown Court to avoid close contact.

Four of the 11 jurors left in the trial of Tiffany Tate and Michael Roe sat in the press box, with more in the downstairs public gallery.

Press and public were moved to the rarely opened upstairs gallery.

Tate, 21, and Roe, 32, are both accused of murdering baby Holly.

They are also both accused of allowing the other to cause her death. They both deny all the charges.

The trial was adjourned on Tuesday after Miss Tate reported flu symptoms.

A second murder trial at Lewes was halted immediately.

Roe appeared in the dock as usual on Friday.

Tate is in isolation and did not make it back to court.

Neither have so far been tested for the coronavirus.

Danny Robinson QC who was representing Tate appeared by video link.

Junior counsel for Roe has also gone into isolation.

“She’s not been tested for Coronavirus and is feeling better but that is why you’ve not seen her in court,” the honourable Mrs Justice Clare Moulder told the jury.

“After careful consideration, I’ve decided this trial cannot continue.

“I appreciate you have come to court at a time when most people are staying at home to carry out what is a very important role.

“There will be another trial of these defendants in the coming months.

“Thank you very much, I hope you all have a safe journey home.”

The trial could be called back to court later this year.

A new trial would likely not start until next year.

Tate will remain on bail while Roe was remanded back into custody.

Sussex courts will be hard pressed to carry on with trials as guidance from government becomes more strict.

Instructions from the Prime Minister for everybody over 70 to isolate at home have put pressure on the system.

As more and more people are advised to stay at home, the numbers available to serve on juries has dwindled.

The over 70s often make up more than one member of a jury in a longer trial since they have generally retired.

Barristers and judges work on into their 70s.

Anyone with an existing health problem which could increase their risk from the virus have also been taken out of the potential jury pool.

The knock-on effects of workers in other sectors staying at home will make the courts even harder to run.

Train services around Sussex are being cut back making travelling to and from court more difficult.

The hearing was the only Crown Court case to sit on Friday.

More trials were expected to open today at Lewes and Hove if there are enough in the jury pool.