When young people turn to crime, the finger of blame is often pointed at their parents. But the mother of a convicted thief from Canterbury was first in line to chide her son as she gave him a dressing down on Facebook.
Unemployed Charlie Cooper was convicted for stealing jewellery worth £1,500 from a home he was helping his father to clean, and selling them to a jeweller to fund drink and drugs.
When the 20-year-old was handed a 12-month community order and 240 hours of unpaid work this week, chairman of the bench Carole Kincaid told him that he had let his family down.
But when local papers the Kentish Gazette and Herne Bay Gazette printed a story about his crime alongside a photo taken outside Canterbury Magistrates’ Court, Cooper contacted the papers to complain that his human rights had been breached.
In a rant on Facebook, he slammed the “idiots” at the papers, saying: “I’m having to watch my back every time I go out.” He also claimed to be “getting threats left, right and centre”.
“I know what I did was wrong, but you didn’t ask me if you could take a picture and put it in the papers,” he said. “I know the public have a right to know but I have my human rights, and now they have been breached.”
Perhaps keen to show that she was not the one responsible for her child’s behaviour, his mother Teresa put him right by commenting under the post: “They don’t need your permission to take your picture if the courts have given them permission to be there to do so.”
The exchange continued, with Charlie saying: “They do, I don’t want my picture taken. End of.”
Teresa, in capital letters, responded: “That lady didn’t want her jewellery taking but you did it anyway, end of.”
Clearly regretting his mother’s access to social networks, Charlie said: “This is why I didn’t have you on Facebook mum, you say things like that. I’m blocking you. OK!”
Teresa, hoping the message got through, told him he’s got to learn to deal with the truth and “until you realise things like this you will never learn”.
The story represents yet another occasion when a parent has been able to punish their offspring via a social network. Last year, North Carolina IT worker Tommy Jordan took the unusual step of firing nine bullets into his daughter’s laptop after she berated her parents on Facebook for asking her to make coffee.
“I’m not your damn slave,” she wrote, telling them to “get off your ass and get it yourself”. Mr Jordan’s assault has now been seen 38 million times on YouTube.
And nine months ago, a mother and father in Wisconsin were so affronted by their daughter’s rude behaviour that they confiscated her phone and posted mock “selfies” – pictures of themselves – on her Facebook page.
Mum bites back: Facebook exchangeing
Teresa Cooper They don’t need your permission to take your picture if the courts have given them permission to be there.
Charlie Cooper They do. I don’t want my picture taken. End of.
Teresa Cooper It’s done now. THAT LADY DIDN’T WANT HER JEWELLERY TAKEN BUT YOU DID IT ANYWAY. End of.
Charlie Cooper This is why I didn’t have you on Facebook Mum, you say things like that. I’m blocking you. OK.
Teresa Cooper It’s the truth Charlie. You don’t like the truth. Until you realise things like this you will never learn. OK.