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Juror jailed for looking up rape defendant on Google

Lecturer ignored judge's ban on web search

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A juror who used Google to search for a defendant in a rape case in Luton was jailed for six months yesterday for contempt of court.

Academic Dr Theodora Dallas, 34, told fellow jurors that the man on trial for sexual assault had previously been accused of rape after finding a newspaper article about him on the internet. Her Google search broke strict laws designed to prevent prejudicing or influencing a jury.

Today she begins her stretch behind bars after three High Court judges sentenced her. Lord Judge said Dallas had "deliberately disobeyed" the trial judge's instructions not to search the internet, reported the BBC.

Lord Judge said: "The damage to the administration of justice is obvious. Misuse of the internet by a juror is always a most serious irregularity and an effective custodial sentence is virtually inevitable."

Dallas has resigned her post as a psychology lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire. She will serve three months and will remain on licence for the rest of the term.

Dallas, who is from Greece, said in a written statement given to judges that "sometimes my grasp of English is not that good" and stated that she had no intention to influence the jury. Charles Parry, defending, asked the court to impose a suspended sentence, but Lord Judge rejected this.

Dallas was also refused the right of appeal to the Supreme Court.

A British juror was sentenced to eight months in prison last year after she used Facebook to search for a defendant. ®

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