Man who set fire to telephone mast amid false 5G-coronavirus conspiracy theories faces prison

Michael Whitty, 47, pleads guilty to arson over blaze in Merseyside

Eleanor Barlow
Monday 18 May 2020 14:51
Conspiracy theory about 5G and Covid-19 sparks online panic

A man has been warned he faces a prison sentence after admitting he set a telephone mast on fire.

Michael Whitty, 47, pleaded guilty to arson over the telecommunications mast blaze in Kirkby, Merseyside, at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday.

Emergency services were called to Coopers Lane at 9.45pm on 5 April following reports the Vodafone-owned telephone mast was on fire.

Nobody was injured, but damage was caused to the structure.

A number of attacks on phone masts across the country are believed to be linked to false claims the 5G network is spreading coronavirus.

Whitty, of Perimeter Road, Kirkby, appeared in court via videolink from HMP Altcourse.

Andrew Alty, defending, asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared to provide further details of Whitty's reasons for committing the offence.

He said: “There is more of an explanation behind this that he would like to give.”

The court heard material from the defendant's mobile phone was being assessed by the prosecution.

Judge Andrew Menary QC adjourned the case until 8 June.

He told Whitty: “You must recognise that it is inevitable there will be a custodial sentence in this case.”

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