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23 January 2012, 12:55
A university lecturer who looked up information on the internet about a trial on which she was serving as a juror has been jailed for six months.
Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, used the case of "highly intelligent" academic Theodora Dallas to send out a warning that the misuse of modern technology by jurors would almost inevitably land them in prison.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who prosecuted Dallas, 34, for contempt of court, said the case sent out an "important message".
"It is central to the fairness of our trial process that only what is heard in court should determine the jury's verdict," he said.
But concerns were raised by the Prison Reform Trust over the adequacy of the guidance given to jurors "and the effectiveness of the use of imprisonment as a deterrent to others."
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Dallas, a Greek national who came to England at the age of 19, caused the trial of Barry Medlock at Luton Crown Court to be abandoned in July 2011 after she discovered on the internet that Medlock, who was accused of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm with intent, had been previously charged with rape - an offence of which he was acquitted.
Dallas will have to serve at least three months of her six month sentence in prison, and three months on licence.
This case comes four months after a 19 year old was jailed for two months for taking a photo of the inside of a Luton Crown courtroom with his mobile phone.
The teenager had been in the public gallery and had received a message asking where he was. He hadn't realised taking a photo would put him in Contempt of Court.