Teenager jailed over offensive April Jones Facebook posts
Monday 08 October 2012
A man who posted “despicable” comments on his Facebook page about missing youngster April Jones has been jailed for 12 weeks.
Matthew Woods, 19, from Chorley, Lancashire, made a number of derogatory posts about April and missing Madeline McCann after getting the idea from Sickipedia - a website that "trades in sick jokes".
Among his comments was: "I woke up this morning in the back of a transit van with two beautiful little girls, I found April in a hopeless place."
Another read: "Who in their right mind would abduct a ginger kid?"
Others stated "I love April Jones" and "Could have just started the greatest Facebook argument ever. April Fools, Who Wants Maddie?"
He also wrote comments of a sexually explicit nature about the five-year-old who went missing last week from near her home in Machynlleth, mid Wales.
Unemployed Woods was arrested for his own safety on Saturday night and was remanded in custody ahead of his appearance at Chorley Magistrates' Court today where he pleaded guilty to sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive.
Chairman of the bench, Bill Hudson, said Woods's comments were so serious and "abhorrent" that it deserved the longest sentence they could pass, less a third to give credit for his early guilty plea.
Earlier in the day the same bench fined a man £100 for shouting racial abuse to a woman who had pulled up in her car beside him at a junction. He was also ordered to pay his victim compensation of £100 for saying to her: "You f****** black c***."
Mr Hudson said: "We have listened to the evidence in what can only be described as a disgusting and despicable crime and the bench finds was completely abhorrent.
"The words and references used to the current case in Wales and that of the missing girl in Portugal are nothing less than shocking, so much so that no right thinking person in society should have communicated to them such fear and distress."
He added that families involved in cases such as these should not have to be subjected to any use of social media like this and should not be used to mistreat people in this way.
He said only a custodial term in a young offender institute was appropriate, which was greeted by applause from around 30 people sitting in the public gallery.
Mr Hudson concluded: "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."
Woods smirked as members of the public clapped before he was led from the dock.
Martina Jay, prosecuting, said members of the public were so upset about his postings that they reported them to the police. A "vigilante mob" of around 50 people later descended upon his home address.
Woods pleaded guilty to sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive.
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