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Supreme Court rejects juror contempt case

30 January 2012

The Supreme Court has refused former juror Theodora Dallas permission to appeal against her six-month prison sentence for contempt of court.

Dallas, a juror at Luton Crown Court in July 2011, had been explicitly warned of a previous case where a juror was jailed for misusing the internet.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General, who brought the contempt charges, said that before the trial started potential jurors were given verbal instructions from the court’s jury officer not to research their cases on the internet, or any of the individuals involved in the trial.

“Notice boards in the jury waiting room gave similar warnings and the trial judge also reminded them of the Fraill case.”

Joanne Fraill contacted a defendant via Facebook after his trial, but before the jury she was sitting on had delivered its verdict on another defendant. Fraill started a conversation, using an assumed name, volunteering comments about the trial.

She was convicted of contempt in June last year and sentenced by the Lord Chief Justice to eight months in custody.

The defendant in the case of Dallas was Barry Medlock, charged along with two co-defendants with causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

The spokeswoman said details of a previous conviction Medlock had received for ABH were adduced in evidence under the bad character provisions.

“However, on the third day of the trial another juror reported that Ms Dallas had been on the internet, found that the defendant and his accomplice had also been previously charged with rape (Medlock was acquitted), and had told the other jurors, despite being asked to stop,” the spokeswoman said.

Dallas’ actions were reported to the judge and the trial was abandoned.

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