Student Liam Stacey has been sentenced to 56 days in jail after posting a series of offensive comments following footballer Fabrice Muamba's on-pitch collapse.
The biology student was arrested after his racially aggressive updates on Twitter came to the attention of other users on the microblogging service, leading to his tweets being reported to the police. Admitting to inciting racial hatred, the 21-year-old posted the comments shortly after Muamba collapsed during the FA Cup tie between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur.
Stacey stood sobbing during the hearing, holding his head in his hands upon hearing the sentence. Police later took him away in handcuffs.
District judge John Charles said to Stacey: "It was racist abuse via a social networking site instigated as a result of a vile and abhorrent comment about a young footballer who was fighting for his life. At that moment, not just the footballer's family, not just the footballing world but the whole world were literally praying for his life. Your comments aggravated this situation.
"I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done. You committed this offence while you were drunk and it is clear you immediately regretted it. But you must learn how to handle your alcohol better."
Defending, Gareth Jones explained that Stacey would feel the guilt of his actions for years to come, and also fears that he faces expulsion from the university:
"He is no longer welcome at the institution because he has damaged their reputation and there are fears of reprisals. He does not bear him any grudge and he is glad he is making a good recovery. My clients simply lost his head and posted these disgusting comments to both the bitter shame of himself and his parents. For a moment of madness his career has now gone as a result of his behaviour."
Despite these racial slurs contained within the hub of social networking, it just goes to show how quickly the online endemic can spread and reach the eyes and ears of the law. Hopefully this custodial sentence will serve as an example to other trolls, and cause them to see the severity of their actions - and at least prevent further cases such as these from taking place in the future.
Source: The Guardian