The woman who found herself facing serious charges after befriending a defendant on Facebook while serving on a jury in the woman’s trial has been sentenced.
40-year-old Joanne Fraill, the mother of three children and three step-children, sobbed and panicked as the eight-months-long jail sentence was handed down by a judge after the contempt of court conviction, prompting a brief recess. Interestingly, the defendant in the earlier case, 36-year-old Jamie Sewart, was acquitted of the charges in the drug trial where Fraill served as a juror. Her sentence of two months for the subsequent contempt charges was suspended.
The judge, in a ruling, wrote:
“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.”
“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.”
Lawyers added that such strict censure was necessary to protect the integrity of legal proceedings.