LUTON, England, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A former professor was jailed after being convicted of contempt of court for researching a criminal defendant while serving on a Luton, England, jury.
Theodora Dallas, 34, who taught psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, was sentenced to three months of jail time and three months probation by three high court judges, The Guardian reported.
Dallas was a juror in the case against Barry Medlock, who was on trial for causing grievous bodily harm in July 2011. Dallas conducted the Internet research on Medlock at home and then told members of the jury what she had found about the defendant.
In sentencing Dallas, the chief lord judge Lord Igor Judge said, "Misuse of the Internet by a juror is always a most serious irregularity and an effective custodial sentence is virtually inevitable."
In a written witness statement to the judges, Dallas, who was born in Greece and move to the United Kingdom when she was 19, admitted that "sometimes my grasp of English is not that good."
"I did not understand that I could make no search on the Internet," Dallas wrote. "I had no intention at all to prejudice the jury in any way. I had no intention to disobey what the judge said. I really apologize. I never thought it would cause such disruption."
However, attorney general Dominic Grieve said the trial judge gave jurors multiple warnings against doing Internet research on Medlock.
"There can be little doubt that repeated warnings were given to Ms. Dallas and her fellow jurors as to the prohibition on conducting research into the case which they were trying. Only three weeks earlier the solicitor general prosecuted juror Joanne Fraill for discussing a trial on Facebook; a case mentioned by the Judge in his directions to the jury," Grieve said.