A juror and an aquitted defendant, who decided to chat via Facebook about a drug and corruption trial last August, were found guilty of contempt of court. The case just might be the U.K.’s first prosecution for contempt of court involving social media.
Juror Joanne Fraill, 40 (pictured), and the previously acquitted defendant Jamie Sewart, 34, became Faceboook buddies last year during the trial and mindlessly chatted away the details of the jury’s deliberations.
Reportedly, Fraill first befriended Sewart on the popular social medium. As time progressed, Sewart asked Fraill to provide her with insider information as to the goings-on behind the scenes as the jury pondered the evidence.
Fraill, a mother of three, admitted to the U.K.’s Daily Mail that she had originally contacted Sewart because she felt “empathetic” towards her and saw “considerable parallels” between their lives.
As the result of the women’s Facebook friendship, one of the defandants convicted in the original drug trial, Gary Knox, has requested that his conviction be overturned due to the alleged jury misconduct. Knox, the 35-year-old partner of Sewart, was jailed for six years after being found guilty of paying a police officer to disclose information on drug dealers.
Fraill’s lawyer Peter Wright told the Daily Mail, ”Her conduct, though reprehensible, was not calculated or designed by her to subvert the trial process, although it is conceded that that was an inevitable consequence of it.”
Sewart, who had denied contempt was found guilty on Tuesday by judges in London’s High Court. She was advised however, that she would receive a suspended prison sentence. Since Sewart is the mother of a young child from whom she was separated during her drug trial, this situation is her saving grace.
Meanwhile Fraill, who pleaded guilty to contempt on Tuesday could be facing up to two years imprisonment. She will stand before a judge Thursday to receive her sentencing.
What do you think about this particular case, readers?
Photo courtesy of AFP