back to article Lancashire man JAILED over April Jones Facebook posts

A young man was jailed for 12 weeks today, after confessing to posting "grossly offensive" comments on Facebook about missing five-year-old April Jones. He posted some bad taste jokes culled from Sickipedia on a support group for April Jones's family and friends, according to press reports. Among the comments was: "I woke up …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another day, another waste of police time and resources....if things like this really matter then why is Sikipedia still up and running ?

    "Down with this sort of thing....Careful now."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-F2HKLzB6c

    1. LarsG
      Meh

      A prat

      Call him a prat, post is picture in the papers with the caption prat, point him out in the street and call him prat. Make him feel like a prat.

      But jail him? No, however obnoxious rude or stupid that is his prerogative.

      1. Alan Bourke

        Re: A prat

        There really is a lot to be said for this IMO. Paste his mug up on the side of buses for a fortnight.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >.if things like this really matter then why is Sikipedia still up and running ?

      Possibly because if you head to sickipedia, you know what to expect.

      1. Wize

        The big question that has not been officially answered (as far as I can see) is:

        Did he post it on the April support page or did he post it on his own?

        You could argue the Sickapedia excuse if posted on his own or a friend with a similar sense of humour. But you don't tell sick jokes to the victim's family/friends.

        I'd say set him free if it was his own page but a heavy kick up the bum if he posted on the support page himself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          From what i read, he posted it on his own wall, someone else saw it, put a screenshot it (or linked to his wall) on one of the pages dedicated to April.

  2. Justice

    *speechless*

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      There is no way...

      ...that anyone should ever be jailed for speech / opinion, no matter how hateful or offensive. There is a simple reason for this - Who gets to decide what is offensive / hateful and what isn't?

      Hate is to be countered with reason, not with oppression. Teenage* berks should be ignored not given attention. Acting like an asshole should not be punishable by jail time.

      * yes, strictly the guy isn't a teenager, but mental age and all that

      1. davtom

        Re: There is no way...

        I don't agree that nobody should ever be jailed for speech and opining, but I do think this has gone a bit extreme.

        I think people should be jailed for things like incitement to riot and terrorism.

        However, what was done here was in exceptionally poor taste, and my thoughts are with April's family at this time.

    2. Growly Snuffle Bunny
      Thumb Down

      "speechless"

      Safest way to be, obviously.

      Much as I dislike the distress this has caused the family, I can't help but feel that we're on a slippery slope to enforced 'niceness'. No one has a right to not be offended, and we should not have that right. Everything offends somebody.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "speechless"

        but we've already decided that you can't say mean things about women and how some people like to have sex.

        Liberal governments pass the most laws.

  3. RICHTO Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Wow what unbelievable overkill. What happened to free speech?

    Anyone got a link to what he posted?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      What happened is that you don't know what it means, apparently.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It should be OK to publicly post grossly offensive material on the internet. That's what I think. Get over it.

        I've seen several variations of this joke, and frankly I'm not in the least bit offended.

        What does offend me however is censorship, and the small-minded self-righteous who think they are doing the world a favour but are just selling their freedom down the river piece by piece.

      2. kwhitefoot
        Flame

        Perhaps you could enlighten us then.

        See title.

      3. Eddie Edwards
        Linux

        Just to play devil's advocate here (because I'm not against punishing griefers) ...

        ... the fact that no media outlet seems to have the balls to republish the joke or give any details of the incident whatsoever *does* seem to indicate the "chilling effect" that this kind of legal action can have.

      4. JonP
        Black Helicopters

        to be fair the definition of "free speech" does seem change rather frequently these days, or rather the list of exceptions gets longer...

      5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        I thought it meant:

        Article 10: Freedom of Expression

        (1) Everyone has the right of freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without inference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

        I thought it was a new labour trick to use technical legislation to get around the human rights act, looks like this lot have learned from them.

      6. Rob Fisher
        WTF?

        What freedom of speech means

        As reported, the man was arrested and then jailed for speech which caused offence. Freedom of speech as long as it doesn't cause offence isn't much use to anyone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Eddie Edwards, it was posted on slashdot. I'm normally for free speech, but this (his jokes) crossed the line of human decency. He got off lightly. For all those people going on about freedom of speech, imagine you are this girl's parents... how do you feel about free speech now?

        2. Ross K Silver badge
          FAIL

          Barking up the wrong tree

          Article 10: Freedom of Expression

          (1) Everyone has the right of freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without inference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

          Yes that's what the EU says, but go to Germany and write about how great the Nazis were. You'd be doing some time.

          Or closer to home, Ireland has blasphemy laws on the books which were introduced last updated in 2009. "publication or utterance of blasphemous matter" is a punishable offence.

          Freedom of speech is a fallacy. A good motto to live by is "think before you open your mouth"...

          1. Rob Fisher

            Re: Barking up the wrong tree

            It's no good quoting law at us. We know the law is stupid; that's the whole point of this article.

        3. Sirius

          This is not any sort of "State" - we don't have the same laws in the UK as the US. It amazes me that some people think everywhere in the world is the same as where they happen to live.

    2. Stuart Elliott

      Free speech

      Unfortunately, people consider free speech to mean they can say whatever offensive and insensitive things they like on the Internet and it be OK.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      Would he have been arrested if he stood outside the memorial service that was held yesterday and said those things there? I guess he probably would. This isn't the USA where the Westboro Baptist Church is allowed to do that sort of thing.

      1. Jolyon Smith
        Headmaster

        Re: Free speech

        Um, that *is* what it means. Anything else isn't "Free Speech". Everyone has the inalienable right to be an ass and to demonstrate to the entire world that they are such an ass, if that's what they want to do.

        What isn't OK is incitement, slander or harassment but I don't think anything this douche said falls into those categories.

        Being JAILED for being an ass and saying some things that other people find offensive... ? George Orwell must be tutting and saying "I told you so" right about now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Stop

          Re: Free speech

          Using the free speech argument to defend idiots such as the one that posted these messages belittles the right when people use it (or are refrained from doing so) to improve quality of life for themselves and others. People are allowed to do and say as they please but not looking at specific cases and taking appropriate action after the fact would be negligence by the authorities. He posted a highly offensive message that serves no public good and is in violation of standing laws.

          And the last line of the guardian article "Woods smirked as members of the public clapped as he was led from the dock." implies that he doesn't really give a damn about free speech.

          1. Aramando

            Re: Free speech

            @Cam2A:

            "Using the free speech argument to defend idiots such as the one that posted these messages belittles the right when people use it (or are refrained from doing so) to improve quality of life for themselves and others."

            No it doesn't. They are two sides of the same coin, and you cannot and should not try to separate them. If you want people to have the right to free expression for the public good you have to accept that it will also be used in ways that are highly unpopular and even arguably contrary to the public good.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Free speech

              "No it doesn't. They are two sides of the same coin, and you cannot and should not try to separate them. If you want people to have the right to free expression for the public good you have to accept that it will also be used in ways that are highly unpopular and even arguably contrary to the public good."

              The absolute freedom of speech and expression that you are on about would mean that talking to someone about the possibility of stealing things, attempting to pervert the course of justice, suggesting to kill someone etc... would all be protected under "free speech" or "freedom of expression".

      2. Richard Cartledge

        Re: Free speech

        Yes, that's what free speech is, as soon as people being offended takes precedence, we lose freedom of speech as everything will offend someone. This turd should simply be publicly identified and let the people unleash free speech.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Free speech

          *speech*

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Stuart Elliott

        "Unfortunately, people consider free speech to mean they can say whatever offensive and insensitive things they like on the Internet and it be OK".

        Stuart, that's exactly what it does mean. It's bad manners, cruel, unkind, and shows one off to be a nasty person. But none of that means it should be illegal.

      5. Brian 30

        Re: Free speech

        Well yes, free speech means exactly that

    4. Donut4000

      I'm going to sound like an old fart here, but with freedoms come responsibilities; he's got the first bit, but the second part died on its arse...

    5. chris lively

      Free speech is, and has always been, a myth.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Before jumping to conclusions...

      ... it pays to read exactly what he wrote, the number of comments he made, the nature of those comments and what the chairman of the bench had to say on the matter. Whilst his reaction to the verdict shouldn't necessarily be taken as an indication of his character... no actually sod that, I'll take it as an indication of his character and describe him as a thoroughly nasty piece of work and for whom the sentence is justified.

    7. Mike Richards

      It's on the Guardian site

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/08/april-jones-teenager-jailed-facebook

      It's also worth pointing out he posted them in a group set up for people concerned about the case. He went in with the intent to troll and cause offence.

    8. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
      Big Brother

      Free Speech? I've heard of it...

      In case you missed it, this is in the UK, not the USA so free speach laws vary considerably. For instance, in the UK under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 "sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive" is illegal, which is what this sorry excuse for a human was convicted of doing.

    9. Psyx
      Stop

      "What happened to free speech?"

      Instead of yelling "Free Speech!", it's worth instead finding out what your Right to it really includes and what it doesn't include.

      It's not - nor ever has been - a legal excuse for language liable to cause public offence, incitement, libel, slander, hate crimes, excessive noise, et cetera.

      That said; I'd love to hear the context. Was it on a 'Private' user page, on their Wall with no privacy settings, or posted elsewhere, or directly aimed at others? As-is, there's not a lot of context to make a personal moral decision on if I think it's 'right' to be sentenced in such a way, so quickly.

    10. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >What happened to free speech?

      Whatever happened to not being a c*nt?

      'Freedom of speech' about people being able to criticise authorities, its not about heaping mockery upon people's sorrow and anguish. If you want to act like a c*nt, then you can be treated like a c*nt.

    11. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Freedom of speech is a right.

      But freedom of speech also comes with a responsibility to use it legally. Break the law and your freedom to do something becomes a rather weak defence.

    12. The Indomitable Gall

      Well your mother was a...

      [This post detailing the deviancy and congenital defects in RICHTO's family has been deleted due to gross indecency and the high risk of causing offence.]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "That said; I'd love to hear the context. Was it on a 'Private' user page, on their Wall with no privacy settings, or posted elsewhere, or directly aimed at others?"

        it was posted on the facebook page set up in support of the family of the missing girl.

        if it was on his own page or a private group then I would in some respects defend his right to freedom of expression. But in this case his intention was entirely to cause upset and distress to people that were already in a unstable emotional state to start with.

        1. Purlieu

          Accuracy and the Press

          Never good friends.

          He posted the sickipedia copies ina CLOSED GROUP.

          Then someone else took a screenshot of it and posted that to the Find April page.

          Why has this other person so far escaped jail ?

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          The guy is an absolute arse.

          But, as others have pointed out, it's the pointy end of a thick wedge. Freedom of Speech and Expression is something that needs to be thought about without the burden of emotion clouding the issue.

          If I was in that situation, and someone made similar jokes, I probably would want them locked up. It doesn't mean it's actually right to do so though. He's an absolute idiot for what he's done, but whilst I don't agree with what he's said, on principle I've got to defend his right to say it.

          There are some very sensible areas where Freedom of Speech is slightly curtailed, the age-old example being shouting FIRE in a crowded theatre. That's a public safety issue and you should expect some repercussions. That, however, is an order of magnitude more harmful than simply causing offense.

          Hell, I probably offend a few people quite regularly (although not deliberately), in fact we probably all do to a greater or lesser extent. It's not the same as going out of your way to deliberately offend someone, but that should be seen as a sign of a wazzock with an inferiority complex, not as something punishable by jail-time.

          I can't help think that if the emotional link was taken away from this, those forgetting about freedom of speech would probably be in the minority. Condemn the guy all you want, he much of what he gets (and probably more), but don't make the mistake of thinking this justifies broad over-reaching laws that curtail freedom-of-speech. The only link here is they've been used to get someone you find particularly distasteful, it doesn't make them good laws

          Right....... Coffee time

        3. Psyx
          Thumb Up

          "it was posted on the facebook page set up in support of the family of the missing girl."

          That's precisely the information that I was looking for. Thanks.

          Well; that's made my mind up: It wasn't him utilising his freedom of expression: It was him being a deliberately provocative and offensive dick to someone. My sympathy for the guy evaporates.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          *SPEECH*

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Free Speech? I've heard of it...

          Oh FFS...

          3rd time and still you fail to grasp it...

          S P E E C H

      4. James Micallef Silver badge

        'acting like a c*nt' should not result in jail time.

        Either free speech exists or it doesn't. If free speech exists with exceptions, who decides what is exceptional?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be more impressed

    if the police who have time to sit on their bums looking at Facebook got off their bums and were sent to join the search teams that are still out looking for the poor lass. A good friend has spent the six days out every day walking in lines across the hills, and he could do with a break.

    I don't know how sick the joke was but prison is not the answer for telling jokes, no matter how unpleasant they are.

  5. Suricou Raven

    Nothing like incarceration to turn an annoying but harmless troll into a career criminal. He'll get out unemployed, almost unemployable, and with some new lessons in the profession of burglery from his fellow prisoners.

  6. An0n C0w4rd
    FAIL

    So we take someone who had poor taste and pay for their room and board for 3 months and expose them to potentially hardened criminals and potentially send them into a life of crime.

    How does this make sense?

  7. Daniel Bower
    WTF?

    Complete boll0cks

    Whilst the post may well have been offensive to some and was clearly a pretty daft thing to post on a tribute page to a 5 year old child is it really an offence that requires jail time?

    I've seen more offensive things on the net and heard equally as offensive things on TV (think Frankie Boyle's joke about Shannon Matthews and the Maddie McCann mask - no I wont't repeat it in full lest I get sent down for 3 months!).

    These days, wherever there is an open forum there is a troll. Delete the post and move on...

  8. Someone
    WTF?

    The public is pathetic and useless…

    …or so must think Bill Hudson, Chairman of the Magistrates bench.

    He said, “The reason for the sentence is the seriousness of the offence, the public outrage that has been caused and we felt there was no other sentence this court could have passed which conveys to you the abhorrence that many in society feel this crime should receive.”

    Why does Hudson think that that part of the public who were outraged are not capable of conveying abhorrence? The lynch mob that turned up at Woods’ home clearly were. It’s why the American First Amendment doesn’t lead to anarchy. When individuals step out of line, society makes them look silly. When businesses step out of line, society hits them in the wallet. It doesn’t need the heavy, dead hand of the law.

    I’ve been doing ‘April Fool’ jokes, based on the premise that it’s not unknown for parents to falsely claim their child is missing as a way of seeking attention. Thank god, I never put any of them online.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Misdirected effort

    I wonder what the outcome could be by now if the effort spent on locating, investigating, charging, trying and sentencing the young lad were spent on locating April...

    Someone else mentioned sickipedia as a candidate for take-down on similar grounds. There's also fuckipedia on twitter and probably a whole host of other things. Some of the things posted on damnyouautocorrect.com could also be considered equally objectionable.

  10. Spoonsinger
    Coat

    "What happened is that you don't know what it means, apparently."?

    not sure I understand, (but will give you the doubt)

    What's black and blue and floats in the sea?

    akin to?

    What's pink and red and sits in the corner?

    and

    what do you call a paraplegic in a swimming pool?

    IGMC, (because there is that sense over the subject).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      He was unlikely to vote, Daily Mail readers do - enough said

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misdirected effort

      It was a different police force that located, investigated, charged, tried and sentenced the young lad adult male so no resources where diverted from the search.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I'd be more impressed

      However the only way to get the message to the public that such behaviour is unacceptable is to take a tough stance in the early days. Probably. People think that the internet means no rules, and high publicity cases highlighting that this is not the case might safe time and money in the longer run.

  11. shadowphiar
    Stop

    Import detail missing

    Why does this story not mention that the comments appeared in a support group for April Jones's family and friends? That is why it is being treated differently to postings on a "sick jokes" web site, or your own wall feed.

    It would be good to get a straight answer on whether he was the one who posted to that particular group though, some comments n the previous story suggested that a third party had taken a screenshot of his post out of another context.

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Import detail missing

      We have updated the story with fresh details

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frankie Boyle

    ... can apparently say pretty tasteless things and get away with it....

    Does being "Famous" means you can say "grossly offensive" things and not get hauled into the courts?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm going to be controversial

    (And post anonymously)

    But given the circumstances, had he said it in public at the scene he would have been lucky to walk away. So, with that said, I find the sentence harsh but I appreciate the message. Digital communication IS real life and you are talking to real people.

    Freedom of speech and expression is one thing, mocking someone who is desperately searching for their missing presumed kidnapped and murdered daughter is quite another.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Usually I agree that this sort of thing being a waste of police resources and people should get over their over sensibility.... but their is a big BUT in this case.

    He posted the comment on the support group page for April Jones, the whole point of it was to cause distress and upset.

    Jokes are all about the audience. A joke has to be targeted at the right audience. Sites like sickapedia are all well and good to post that type of joke on. If you are viewing the site then you know what you are likely to expect. If you tell the jokes to your friends or group of friends then that’s fair enough. If they don’t like your humour then your circle of friends will get smaller and you re-evaluate your position on things.

    personally, I deal with stressful situations by joking about it, but there is no way I would joke about a missing child to a support group about a missing child... its about self censorship and if I cant manage it myself then I leave the state no option but to sensor me !

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what is interesting is that one judge deemed such communication is a publication which means it's covered by the obscene publication act, so in theory he should only be guilty of a crime if his writings ""if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it""

    So, are the writings of individuals publications or not? If they are then they should be covered by the above, if they are not then individuals convicted under the OPA for things written online should have their convictions quashed.

    Of course there are other things such as libel, etc...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unless there was an overt threat in there, I see no reason for a jail term. If you put people in jail for "grossly offensive" posts, the Lib Dems will have the Tories in Wormwood Scrubs in a fortnight.

    This is the thin end of the wedge and it will only get wider.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good job he didn't do anything serious

    The bloke was obviously a danger to society. To be traced, charged and convicted in a matter of days just goes to show how serious this crime was. Heaven forbid that he should incite religious hatred and wish death upon the citizens of a country that has cared for him, if he had done he'd have been convicted in seconds. Oh, wait, someone's just corrected me in that, religious hatred and death threats take eight years to resolve.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Utterly insane and complete overkill. This prosecution effectively brings the law into disrespect.

    You would have thought after the Robin Hood Airport debacle they would have thought twice about proceeding with such a fatuous prosecution. As Mr Bumble said, "The law is an ass".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sickpedia

    Sickpedia is currently down, excuse is they're upgrading to the latest version of MySQL but maybe they're worried that the thought police will jump on them.

    I happen to like sick jokes, whilst unpleasant for the immediate family hunour can lighten the mood for those of us more distant from unpleasant events. Who didn't laugh at the 7-UP with Teachers and Need Another Seven Astronauts jokes?

  20. supreme-overlord

    Arrested...

    ....For his own protection. He got quite a few death threats.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fast track

    This is all a bit sudden for a story that's a week old. He was traced, arrested, charged and convicted in a court in just a few days? I can't help but think if my neighbour physically assaulted me, it would be months before it came to court.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Frankie Boyle

      Famous? Frankie who?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Arrested...

      For his own protection eh? I imagine on the forum he was anonymous, now is name is well known. How is that for his own protection?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Arrested...

      Interesting thing will be if anyone who issued a death threat gets put in prison as, if I'm not mistaken, threatening to murder someone for making an offensive remark actually is a real crime.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Frankie Boyle

      That's absurd, those are clearly jokes being told by a comedian for comic effect ,duh!

      The difference is a comedian doesn't generally post a tirade of his newest material about child molestation or cancer or whatever on one persons social media page who happens to be affected by the subject of the joke.

      More to the point though, if you don't like what they have to say - change the channel -(or the appropriate equivalent for other media.)

      Definitely not a nice thing to do. I know it's all subjective but the law shouldn't have sent him down for what he said. They should have had him for being a prick. And if that's not against the law, it jolly well ought to be.

    5. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Frankie Boyle

      Yes, he did claim Scotland was a real country.....

    6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I'm going to be controversial

      Had he said it in public it would have been perfectly legal and protected by the Human Rights Act

      This is the sneaky trick of using some technical legislation to make it a crime because it was on a computer system.

      1. Steve Ball
        Stop

        Re: I'm going to be controversial

        It may have been perfectly legal, but he still would've left the scene in an ambulance.

        My humour is just as sick, but I would NEVER do what this tool did. We're all human beings, not robots, and if my daughter went missing and some little prick tried to act like a comedian I think I'd be angry. Very very angry.

        In this case, though, I think he should have been left to the tender mercies of the mob. What an unbelievable a***hole.

      2. Liz 1

        Had he said it in public

        "it would have been perfectly legal and protected by the Human Rights Act" and he would have got his head kicked in ... I think maybe I'm ok with the law coming down heavy on little shits who don't have the balls to be offensive in person, but feel free to exercise their "freedom of speech" when they think they can get away with it

    7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Fast track

      People only see the down side of facism, but it does make the criminal justice system very efficient.

      Now if only the Daily Mail was in charge of making the trains run on time.

    8. JDX Gold badge

      Good point. Deliberately going to a support group to make hateful comments is not free speech, it is causing deliberate pain. I've no idea what law that comes under but what a prick.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, exactly how offensive does something have to be to merit jail time, who does it have to offend, and for what reason? I presume there has to be something more than "Well, it's *obvious* that this is *really* bad" behind the reasoning, right?

    Right?

  23. Michael 47

    I still can't seem to find one important piece of information anywhere. Some places on the 'net report that he only posted this on his own wall, and it was someone else who put on the page for the group coordinating the search for April. Others places that he posted it directly to the group himself.

    If it's the former then this is a travesty, and I think free speech should definitely trump people right to not be offended.

    If it's the latter then I think his post is bordering on harassment, and the sentence makes far more sense.

    Anyone have any any more information on this?

  24. mark l 2 Silver badge

    While i am against trolling and posting offensive comments on the internet surely a community sentence is more appropriate in these cases keeping prison for people who have caused physical harm or loss rather than emotional harm. I know from personal experience of people who have been attacked, beaten and had to spend days in hospital recovering and the perpetrators only got community sentences.

    Sounds like knee jerk sentencing again, just like we had after the riots last year.

  25. nsld
    WTF?

    So

    If you break into my shed and try to nick my bike and get caught you get another community order as a repeat offender but post something stupid and offensive on farcebook and you go to prison.

    I would agree more with this sentencing if we actually bothered putting real criminals away rather than a slap on the wrist.

    We really do have a wonky justice system in England.

  26. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Hard Sentence?

    So he gets put inside for free speech and this bloke doesn't?

    Maqsood, who was alone in the car, had previous convictions for speeding, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

    He admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance again.

    The Recorder Richard Onslow sentenced Maqsood to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He imposed a three-month curfew, 150 hours of unpaid work, disqualified him from driving for two years and ordered him to pay £125 costs.

  28. pewpie
    Terminator

    JDX - you must be a complete moron to get that many votes from the herd.

    Sticks and stones may break my bones.. but words - well they are just as bad, if not worse according to the corrupt motherfucker in the stupid-ass wig..

    Isn't that how the rhyme goes in a totalitarian facist nightmare island?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a lot of grossly offensive stuff coming out of Birmingham, when are they going to arrest Osbourne?

    The amount of offence and grossness in anything is a purely personal matter, the Police Force and courts seem to be full of people with the constitution of sick kittens. Still, pandering to the deluded masses will provide camouflage while they continue to trample on those same peoples personal freedoms.

  30. keithpeter
    Windows

    Section 127 (2) (c)

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/section/127

    Section 127 (2) (c) could perhaps apply to many of the 'persistent' posters here, at least the 'annoyance' part :-)

    Seriously, is Facebook public? Was this idiot posting his garbage on an unprotected wall or forum?

    The tramp icon because it is very easy to get yourself into trouble these days...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd be careful there, though charged he hasn't been convicted, and it would be wrong to come to a conclusion before all the evidence has been heard in a court of law and the accused has been justly tried...

      The irony is, a man accused of murder and abduction of a little girl will likely have weeks if not months of trial and process before he is either convicted or found not guilty, while a douche bag making a bad joke in a stupid place has already been threatened with death by the public, found guilty in both the "court of public opinion" and the legal system which now plays second to the previously mentioned court.

      Now that's a joke on society if ever there was one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: JDX - you must be a complete moron to get that many votes from the herd.

      Er... if you had clicked 'reply' to JDX's comment so we could read your response to his comment in context, we might have a better chance of getting your point.

      Anyway, thank you for reminding me of my favourite line from last week's The Thick Of It: "He'll be back, like a shit terminator"

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: JDX - you must be a complete moron to get that many votes from the herd.

        Yes even I'm not sure which of my points he's incensed about.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: JDX - you must be a complete moron to get that many votes from the herd.

        And his title doesn't make sense. I must be a moron if people vote on my post?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Section 127 (2) (c)

      You were not to know when you posted your comment, but a comment posted after yours (but higher up, because it was a 'reply') and its response from a member of Team Reg (regarding an update to the article) suggest the comment was posted on a page meant for condolences for the affected family.

      I.e, it wasn't a tasteless joke amongst mates (something I'm often guilty of, but then they are in a position to punch me on the nose if needs must), but rather a hurtful comment 'aimed' at people in a turbulent emotional state.

    4. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      OMG, thats not even offensive, thats just a run of the mill joke.

    5. ThisBeTheVerse
      Trollface

      Re: So

      So....

      Next time you catch a burglar in your shed nicking your bike, is it a proportionate response to torture their Facebook password out of them and then use it to post obscene comments?

  31. Matt 70

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/teenage-troll-jailed-for-12-weeks-after-despicable-comments-on-april-jones-facebook-page-8202380.html

    link to more indepth coverage.

  32. Mr Young
    WTF?

    Now that sounds like swift justice

    See Icon

  33. Spiny_Norman
    Flame

    Context is important

    What may amuse in one context - the famous black humour in the emergency services for example which helps them cope with horrific things - is clearly inappropriate in others. Before gobbing off about 'freedom of speech' consider whether the 'jokes' would be suitable to relate in person to the family & friends of an abducted & probably murdered 5 year old child. Got off very lightly in my view.

  34. Barrie Shepherd

    This guy is now totally alienated against society for what I believe to be an excessive abuse of power by the bench. If the bench applied the same degree of sentencing for crimes where peoples property was invaded, members of the public suffered physical harm and criminals (white and blue collar) caused people to loose hard earned savings I'd not complain. But my observation is that "prisons are too full" so cannot take these "minor" offences.

    I hope the guy wins an appeal but that he suffers more public humiliation for his stupidity - NOT for posting, no matter how inappropriate, material on a website but for being a complete dimwit.

    When I was at school "Sticks and stones may break my bones - but names will never hurt me" was what we were told when people said things that "hurt" us - wherever happened to these very good mantras?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While normally I would say locking someone up for making comments is wrong, and people have the right to be stupid...

    But in this case maybe a spell behind bars is what is needed as it was not just bad taste, it was sick...

  36. Zombie Womble

    Someone call the hurty feelings police, I'm about to cry and someone needs to pay.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      "I hope the guy wins an appeal"

      Unlikely since he pleaded guilty and got a third of his sentence knocked off, otherwise it would have been 18 weeks in chokey rather than 12.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      You might also have been told not to mock the afflicted, too.

      Your teacher might have told you that mantra when another boy told you that you smelt bad, or had fleas or whatever... had you just lost your grandmother and another boy was mocking you for it, your teacher's attitude would have been very different.

      Just because the distinction is difficult to put into law doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

  37. Hairy Airey
    Thumb Up

    Actually he was lucky not to be charged with contempt of court

    I'm not sure of the timings of his "joke", however if it was after Mark Bridger was charged then he could also have been charged with contempt of court.

    Free speech in the UK does not allow you to prejudice the outcome of a criminal trial, so thumbs up to the Register for not being dumb enough to repeat the most offensive joke.

  38. nuked
    Alert

    The idea that something is grossly offensive because someone else says so is not consistent with culture built on free speech (or the illusion thereof).

    Let society deal with this guy as they will. I'd be the first in line, but find him guilty of a crime, I don't think so.

    In fact, it grossly offends me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually he was lucky not to be charged with contempt of court

      I don't believe it would have mattered.

      The brainless sheep of this country follow the "no smoke without fire" rule.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >Let society deal with this guy as they will.

      That's all well and good, but punching him on the nose would be ABH.

      1. nuked

        >That's all well and good, but punching him on the nose would be ABH.

        ..and of course, that would be the only way that society could effectively act.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I made a mistake by asking someone what the joke was.

    It was horrible.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tabloid policing

    Any trawl through the local rag will find a dozen cases of people who commit actual, often violent crimes, such as burglary or kicking the shit out of someone at a cashpoint, getting cautions, "community" or suspended sentences because the justice system can no longer afford to actually jail people. Yet any crime, real or made up (i.e. public order), that is even marginally likely to attract bad press from the Fail, Express etc, gets the Full judicial Monty chucked at it lest the fuzz be seen as failing to respond to public opinion - even if the "public opinion" in question is merely the manufactured marketing outrage of the national press. Politicised police commissioners will only make this much, much worse.

    A slew of derisory stories in the press would be quite enough punishment for someone guilty of little more than a lousy choice of words and timing. I'm sure the public as a whole would prefer to see the police nicking violent offenders than kissing the Daily Fail's arse.

  41. adamsin
    WTF?

    Wow you guys are jailing people for hurting others feelings now, wow just wow!

  42. 42
    Thumb Up

    Excellent result. Hope he has a great time in Jail, with Bubba and his mates.

  43. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance
    Childcatcher

    It buggers belief

    Sorry, meant to say 'beggars'. Better be careful what I type, seeing as crap jokes can get you hard time these days.

    I've read a lot of the posts on the slashdot site and there seem to be quite a few people arguing that this WAS NOT sent to annoy or upset. It was on his own page, which some public spirited vigilante took a screenshot of and forwarded on. Does anyone know for sure either way? Lots of conflicting reports.

    Still shouldn't expect the Spanish Inquisition though.

    Meanwhile, let us not forget the oil executive who accidentally sent 42 pictures of horrific child abuse to his networked office printer, whilst he was at home, by mistake, of course. They were LEVEL FOUR.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Level 4 - Penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    He just gets a 'get out of jail free' card instead. If I or you got caught doing that, we would be going down. And rightly so. But we are not executives that work for an international oil corporation.

    It really does (let me choose my words carefully here and just quickly check that I'm not hooked up to the works printer) beggar belief.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the parents position?

    I sometimes read Sickipedia, I know what to expect. Fine. But he posted it on a tribute page.

    This is akin to him walking into a memorial and spouting it there.

    And if I was in the position of a family member and he did that, he would likely never walk again, at best.

    I totally agree with freedom of speech, but we have to look at the time and place. It IS illegal to yell FIRE in a crowded space unless there is a fire, rightly so.

    12 weeks is lenient. I would have "DICKHEAD" forcibly tattooed onto his forehead.

  45. This post has been deleted by its author

  46. Arclight

    Bloody coward deserves it

    This wasn't some sick idiot posting on a random message board to humour moronic friends, he posted the joke on a Facebook page dedicated to April, and read by her friends and family. Do you have any idea how much distress these sick jokes caused? No,probably not, and the majority of you sticking up for his 'freedom' of speech probably don't care either. As someone else said 'freedom of speech' is supposed to allow us to criticise the government without fear of charge, it isn't about being an offensive idiot.

    Would any of considered going to Machynlleth church last Sunday, and repeating these jokes? Why not, your only exercising your 'freedom of speech'

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Jay Holmes

    I agree with Spiny_Norman, context is everything. Jimmy Carr got in trouble with the thought police for making a joke about the Paralympics being our best yet due to the amount of service people we had injured. Taken like that yes he caused offence, but the original joke was something he had heard from one of the injured soldiers when he made a visit to Headley Court. As someone has already stated the emergency services have an extremely dark grey (cant say black, might offend someone) humour, so do the Armed Forces.

    What this idiot did was grossly offensive and yes he deserves to be punished for it. I think jail time was a bit harsh, maybe community service wearing a bright pink jumpsuit. God knows we could do with some of the graffiti being cleaned up and the rubbish in the streets needs to be picked up. 3 weeks of having to get up at 0600 and clean up rubbish all day might make him think a bit before he posts something stupid online again. Or better still, send him to Wales and make him walk the hills in the pouring rain looking for this poor girl with all the other volunteers. If he survives one day I guarentee he will have a better outlook on what he can and cant post.

    I am just waiting for this post to be downvoted along with all the other ones that have pointed out the law or what is just plain common sense instead of being upvoted for jumping on the bandwagon of "Aww poor bloke has had his right to free speech stamped on!"

    Free speech like any right in this country of ours is tempered with moral right and a responsibility to do right. Some people believe you are entitled to one without thinking about the others!!

    1. James Hughes 1

      Have an upvote from me!

  49. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Sir

    Compare and contrast with the current topic..

    3 months suspended sentence

  50. JDX Gold badge

    SHOCK NEWS JUST IN

    People on an internet forum don't like the idea you can get in trouble for posting on the internet.

  51. This post has been deleted by its author

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Internet Tough Guys

    I wonder if any of you appreciate that the sick, violent, sexual fantasies you are posting about this idiot would, if you and the Daily Mail got your way, mean that you got to join him in prison.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To all the complete free speech advocates.

    I'me going to stand outside you house/flat/hovel, and tell all the passers by you are paedophiles. Then I'm going to ring your boss and tell him you been shagging their other half. Then I'm going to ring the police say I saw you abusing a child at the swimming pool. Then repeat on the internet.

    Free Speech for the World!

    I have children, and when you lot do (once you lose your virginity), I think you might well decide that just maybe this sentence is correct.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: To all the complete free speech advocates.

      As a follow-on to that, what about holocaust denial? I can't remember if it's illegal in the UK but presumably free speech says it shouldn't be a crime anywhere?

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: To all the complete free speech advocates.

      Posted AC, how ironic.

      You do know there is a difference between being able to speak your mind and accusing people of things that are untrue?

    3. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Down

      Re: To all the complete free speech advocates.

      You had me until the last line, free speech comes with responsibility and consequences, I don't think anyone could disagree, but it's about proportionality - I could see how a first offence caution would be appropriate as 50 people did end up at his door baying for blood, an opportunity to apologise for the emotional harm, learn a leson and change his ways, be an example for other people to learn, it was a support group after all, not his own page or a "[contraversial humour]" page that people seek out.

      3 month prison sentence? not proportionate.

  54. ContentsMayVary

    Funny thing this free speech lark.

    If I come up to you in the street and follow you around repeatedly calling you a worthless cunt, a sack of shit, and so on, I could be arrested for behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace...

    Posting really nasty stuff on a tribute page set up by other people (rather than on your own page) is somewhat akin to following someone around calling them a worthless cunt.

  55. IntermediateAl

    What the European Convention on Human Rights actually says

    I wonder why don't people bother quoting the 2nd bit of Article 10 of ECHR?

    ARTICLE 10

    [1] Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

    [2] The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

  56. James 100

    Freedom of speech is ONLY about unpopular material!

    We don't need the protection of 'freedom of speech' for Thomas the Tank Engine - it's all about the kind of stuff that gets the censor-lobby fired up: the whistleblowers, the religious/political fringe. OK, the joke was a really lousy one, but criminally so?!

    Now, why has it taken eight years to eject Hamza for openly stirring up racial/religious hatred in public, yet they've arrested this guy, hauled him in front of a kangaroo court and locked him up within a week? Have they yet arrested any of the people making death threats, which is an actual crime not just a thought-crime? I do hope they'll all be tracked down and given a lot longer than 12 weeks... right?

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