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Judge jails man over courtroom outburst

A man who was paid $1000 to try to cause a serious South Australian drugs trial to be aborted has been jailed over his courtroom outburst.

Ross George Fryer was paid $100 upfront and another $900 after interrupting the District Court proceedings during final submissions to a jury in June this year.

Three people were on trial when Fryer entered the room and shouted loudly: “Just because (one of the accused) is a drug dealer, he has been in jail before, is a full member of the club, that doesn’t mean he is guilty”.

The incident prompted all defence counsel to ask for the trial to be aborted, but the judge rejected their applications.

Two of the accused, including the one referred to in Fryer’s outburst, were subsequently found guilty and one was acquitted.

The two people convicted have appealed and their identities have been concealed.

In a judgment published on Friday, Judge Michael Burnett said Fryer had met a woman online the day before he came to court and had spent the night with her.

On the morning of the incident, she offered him $1000 to disrupt the proceedings and cause a mistrial and told him what to say.

Judge Burnett said Fryer’s actions fell into the most serious examples of a contempt of court.

“It was wilful in the sense that it was deliberate,” he said.

“It was done with the deliberate intent to interfere with the administration of justice.”

But the judge said he accepted that the 51-year-old did not know the people on trial and took into account his apology to the court and his guilty plea.

He also accepted that the money he received was a “modest amount” for the risk involved and the consequences of his actions.

Judge Burnett jailed Fryer for 14 months.

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