Facebook juror sentenced to eight months in jail

16 Jun 2011

The juror who contacted the defendant in a stg£6m drugs trial through Facebook during jury deliberations has been sentenced to eight months in prison.

According to The Guardian, juror Joanne Fraill put her head on the table in front of her and cried upon hearing the length of the sentence.

The judge then adjourned the court for a short time, calling on “everyone to calm down.”

“Her conduct in visiting the internet repeatedly was directly contrary to her oath as a juror, and her contact with the acquitted defendant, as well as her repeated searches on the internet, constituted flagrant breaches of the orders made by the judge for the proper conduct of the trial,” wrote the judge in a ruling.

Fraill contacted Jamie Sewart through Facebook, a defendant who was acquitted of a drug trial in Manchester last year, while the jury was still deliberating. She also searched online for Sewart’s boyfriend Gary Knox, a co-defendant in the case.

Fraill said she messaged Sewart as she felt “empathetic” and saw “considerable parallels” between their lives.

Fraill and Sewart were both found guilty of contempt of court. Sewart was given a two-month sentence suspended for two years, after admitting she knew Fraill was a member of the jury.

“I really feel for the woman (Fraill). She’s got kids. She apologised and she’s not a bad lady. I really feel for her,” said Sewart.