Facebook juror jailed for contempt
The first juror to be prosecuted for contempt of court for using the internet has been left "totally devastated" after she was jailed for eight months.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other senior judges used the case of Joanne Fraill, 40, who admitted chatting with an acquitted defendant on Facebook, to warn jurors generally not to undermine the country's "precious jury system" by discussing or researching their cases online.
When Lord Judge announced her sentence, Fraill, from Blackley, Manchester, cried "Eight months!" and put her head on the table in front of her at London's High Court and sobbed.
She is expected to serve four months before becoming eligible for early release. The maximum custodial sentence she could have received was two years.
Her solicitor Damian Wall said she was totally devastated at what had happened and regretted the impact on her family.
Earlier the court had been told that Fraill, who was "terrified" at the prospect of prison, faced additional anguish as one of her daughters, who was due to give birth next month, had gone into labour.
Mr Wall said: "Mrs Fraill does not seek, in any way, to diminish the seriousness of her actions, rather she hopes that the example that has been set in this case will help prevent any other person undertaking jury service from behaving in the way that she did."
Fraill, a mother-of-three with three stepchildren, admitted using Facebook to exchange messages with Jamie Sewart, 34, a defendant already acquitted in a complex multimillion-pound drug trial last year.
The jury was still deliberating in the cases of three other defendants at the time.
It was the third of four trials at Manchester Crown Court estimated to have cost £6 million, with Fraill's actions triggering the final retrial.