High Court hears internet contempt trials
The Attorney-General has appeared in person before the High Court to ask that two men be committed to jail for "acts likely to interfere with the administration of justice". In both instances the acts arise from the use of the internet whilst jurors in criminal trial. In an indication of how seriously the courts are treating the issue of internet use and contempt, the cases are being heard by sir John Thomas (President of the Queen's Bench Division and the future Lord Chief Justice) and Mr Justice sweeney.
In the first case, the Wood Green Crown Court juror Kasim Davey accepted posting the following message on Facebook: "Woooow I wasn't expecting to be in a jury Deciding a paedophile's fate, I've always wanted to F*** up a paedophile & now I'm within the law!" The trial judge discharged Davey. The defendant in the Wood Green trial was subsequently convicted of sexual activity with a child. In cross-examination by the Attorney-General, Davey agreed he had been seeking to "attract attention" to himself, but said he had not referred in any way on Facebook to the actual trial.
In the second case, it is alleged that juror Joseph Beard, sitting at a fraud trial in the Kingston Crown Court, undertook additional research on the victims of the fraud and passing on information to fellow jury members. In the High Court hearing, Beard stated that he had been using the internet to asses the length of the trial because he was under pressure from work. He denied infuriating fellow jurors by passing on evidence that had not been heard in court. The original fraud trial collapsed, but the defendants were subsequently convicted and imprisoned following a retrial.
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