Jailed juror refused leave to appeal


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The Independent Online

A juror jailed after disobeying repeated instructions not to seek information on the internet about the case she was trying has been refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Theodora Dallas was imprisoned for six months for contempt of court by Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, and two other judges at the High Court on Monday.

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 last July.

She carried out net research and told other jurors 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.

Today three Supreme Court justices - Lord Phillips, Lord Hope and Lord Kerr - refused her permission to appeal saying that her case did not raise "an arguable point of law".

Lord Judge, sitting with Lady Justice Hallett and Mr Justice Openshaw, said Dallas, 34, had denied contempt, saying her grasp of English was "not that good".

But there was "no doubt" that the former lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire knew "perfectly well" that the trial judge had directed her and the other members of the jury "in unequivocal terms" that they should not seek information about the case from the internet.

There was also no doubt that she "appreciated that this was an order" and that she "deliberately disobeyed the order".

He rejected pleas from Charles Parry, appearing for Dallas, that she should be shown mercy and given a suspended jail sentence.

Lord Judge emphasised that jurors who attempted to "pick and choose" which judges' orders they would obey were "in effect setting themselves above the jury system and treating the principles that govern it with contempt".

Dallas's lawyers made a swift application for the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, to hear her case, suggesting there was a distinction between "direction" and "order".

Today the Supreme Court justices ruled that argument "insupportable", and the meaning of each word "depends on its context and both can mean the same".

The justices declared: "The deliberate disobedience of the specific order of the judge not to use the internet unquestionably amounted to contempt of court at common law."