£1,000 fine for trainee accountant who threatened to blow up airport on Twitter

A trainee accountant who posted a message on the micro-blogging website Twitter threatening to blow up an airport was yesterday convicted and fined £1,000.

Paul Chambers, 26, sent the tweet to his 600 followers after discovering that Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport, from where he was due to fly to Ireland, had been closed by snowfall.

The short message, posted on 6 January, read: "Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"

Chambers told the court it was sent in frustration, but the judge at Doncaster Magistrates Court said the tweet was "of a menacing nature in the context of the times we live in". The court was told that Chambers had been due to fly to Ireland to visit a girl he had met on Twitter, and sent the message when he realised his plans could be jeopardised by the weather. He said he did not realise that it could be seen by anyone other than his followers.

But it was spotted by Shaun Duffield, the off-duty manager at the airport. He alerted an airport security manager Steven Armson who said that, although he graded the threat as "non-credible", he had no option but to pass it to the police. Chambers was asked if he understood the airport had to take threats seriously, whatever the context. He replied: "I do now. I apologise for whatever consequences have happened, but at the time that was not my intention at all. It did not cross my mind that Robin Hood would ever look at Twitter or take it seriously because it was innocuous hyperbole."

Richard Haigh, defending, told the court the tweet about the airport had to be seen in the context of the language and styles of the social networking world. Mr Haigh described it as a "Fawltyesque" outburst. He said the message could possibly be seen as "immature", "tasteless" or "unacceptable", but not criminal. Chambers was found guilty of sending a menacing electronic communication and ordered to pay a £385 fine, a £15 victim's surcharge and £600 costs. He said he plans to appeal.

Last night the case was being widely discussed on Twitter. The girl Chambers had been flying to meet posted a message saying that the conviction meant he was no longer able to qualify as an accountant. Meanwhile, the comedian Stephen Fry offered to pay Chambers' fine for him.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff