Joanne Fraill, a juror in a multi-handed criminal trial contacted an acquitted defendant in that trial while still deliberating on the verdicts on other counts, and had an online discussion through Facebook. During the discussion she had revealed the nature of the jury’s deliberations. She had also conducted internet research on the defendants, contrary to the warning given by the judge. At the substantive hearing, she admitted her contempt in all the respects alleged.
The defendant, Jamie Sewart, denied contempt alleged on the basis that she had solicited or obtained particulars of the jury’s deliberations, contrary to section 8 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. The contempt was found proved at a hearing presided over by the Lord Chief Justice. Sentencing will take place at a hearing on Thursday, 16th June. At the same hearing, an appeal by a convicted defendant in the criminal trial, based in part on the juror’s misconduct in performing internet research on the defendants, will also be determined. Angus McCullough QC appeared with the Solicitor General and Duncan Penny (of 6 King’s Bench Walk).
This is the first case in this jurisdiction in which a juror has been found to have been in contempt as a result of internet research or prohibited discussion taking place online.