Juror must wait for judgement on contempt charge

The fate of a juror accused of contempt of court after causing a trial to collapse by carrying out internet research at home hangs in the balance after the High Court reserved its judgement yesterday.

Dr Theodora Dallas's actions led to the trial of Barry Medlock, accused of causing grievous bodily harm, to be abandoned in July last year after she revealed to fellow jurors he had previously been tried for rape but acquitted.

That information had not been disclosed to the jury at Luton Crown Court, who had been told to base their judgement solely on the evidence presented to them in the course of the trial. Three judges are deciding if Dr Dallas "deliberately" disobeyed the trial judge's directions, thereby creating a "risk of prejudice to the due administration of justice".

The 34-year-old psychology lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire denies the charge. Claiming that she "misunderstood" the judge's instructions and had "no intention" to "influence" the jury, she said that she had been checking the definition of grievous bodily harm online. It was after adding the word "Luton" to the search that she saw a newspaper report discussing Mr Medlock and the previous allegation against him.

Appearing before Lord Judge, Lady Justice Hallett and Mr Justice Openshaw, she apologised and said she "never thought it would cause such disruption".

"I did not understand that I could make no search on the internet," said Dr Dallas in a written witness statement, adding that "sometimes my grasp of English is not that good". However, Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC told the hearing at the High Court that she had impeded the administration of justice and was in contempt.

Lord Judge said it was "very difficult to see how it can be contempt unless it is deliberate," adding that he had "not the slightest doubt" that Dr Dallas was a woman of "good character".

Mr Medlock was subsequently re-tried in October, when he was convicted and jailed. The hearing ended yesterday and the judges reserved their decision to a later but thus far unspecified date.

Last June, 40-year-old Joanne Fraill was given an eight-month jail term after becoming the first juror to be prosecuted for contempt of court for wrongfully using the internet during a trial.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software / Web Developer - ASP.NET

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company produces a wide ra...

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones