A woman juror who contacted a defendant during an active court case via the social networking site Facebook has been jailed for eight months for contempt of court.
In the first ruling of its kind, 40-year-old Joanne Fraill was handed the sentence after admitting to contacting defendant Jamie Sewart while sitting on the panel at her drugs trial, causing the £6million pound case to be thrown out.
"I hope it will act as a deterrent," Solicitor General Edward Garnier announced following the court’s decision to jail Fraill. "It's important that the integrity of our justice system and the integrity of our jury system is maintained and preserved and seen to be so."
During the course of the drug trial that took place last August, Fraill contacted and proceeded to exchange frequent messages with Sewart via the social media outlet. Discussing the jury's deliberations with Sewart, Fraill wrote: “Can’t get anywaone to go either no one budging pleeeeese dont’ say anyhting cause jamie they could call ammiss trial.”
In response Sewart said: “ha ha ur mad I really appreciate everthin.” Adding later: “Keep in touch and i’ll get you a nice pressie.”
The following morning, Sewart, of Bolton, confessed to her solicitor, leading to the judge halting the case. Lord Judge also found Sewart in contempt of court but gave her a two-year suspended sentence as she had already been separated from her daughter during the crown court trial.