A man who trawled the internet leaving reportedly obscene messages on tribute sites for dead people is facing jail after being brought to court under a rarely-used law.
Colm Coss found Facebook memorials to victims of high-profile tragedies around the world - and added comments said to be sexual slurs. His targets included a site dedicated to Jade Goody.
He was prosecuted under the Communications Act 2003, which governs all communications networks including internet, e-mail, mobile phone calls and text messages.
Coss also posted comments about a car crash victim in Australia, and a dead baby in the U.S. Coss targeted the sites purely for his own amusement and to get a reaction, Manchester magistrates were told.
He was only caught when he sent residents on his street photos of himself saying he was an internet troll . The neighbours rang police. When Coss was arrested, he admitted the offence.
Matthew Siddall, prosecuting, said: The defendant told police that he finds the comments amusing. He said it causes reaction.
District Judge Khalid Qureshi told Coss: This crosses the custody threshold.
Coss was granted bail and will be sentenced later this month.
An internet troll who posted obscene messages on Facebook sites set up in memory of dead people has been jailed. Colm Coss posted on a memorial page for Big Brother star Jade Goody and a tribute site to John Paul Massey, a Liverpool boy
mauled to death by a dog.
He was jailed for 18 weeks for sending malicious communications .
He was charged under the Communications Act 2003, for sending malicious communications that were grossly offensive.
Chairwoman of the bench Pauline Salisbury said: You preyed on bereaved families who were suffering trauma and anxiety. We know you gained pleasure and you aren't sorry for what you did.
However vile Colm Coss's online behaviour may have been, sending him to prison sets a dangerous precedent.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the prime objectives of the justice system were to protect physical wellbeing, integrity and property rights. With very little debate or awareness, we have slipped into a society where the justice system is
equally concerned with protecting the intangible sensibilities of the individual. In that sense, this issue overlaps significantly with those around blasphemy and protection from religious insult. I can see no rational reason why causing severe,
grievous offence to Jade Goody's admirers should be an imprisonable offence while causing severe, grievous offence to Christians or Muslims should be considered freedom of speech. It cannot be the role of the law to dictate which flavours of
offence are reasonable and which are not. I cannot see any reason why an Islamic organisation, to take just one example, could not use this precedent to press charges against anyone who participated in the recent, juvenile Everybody Draw
Mohammed Day that circulated online and grew in support on Facebook. And talking of pressing charges, is there anything to now stop Facebook UK or any other site host from dealing with persistent and egregious trolls by calling in the police
and handing over IP addresses?
An internet troll who posted abuse on Facebook memorial sites dedicated to dead children has been jailed.
Sean Duffy mocked a 15-year-old schoolgirl who committed suicide, leaving nasty messages and videos on a condolence page set up by her family.
The 25-year-old also hijacked tribute websites of three other children he had never met.
He was sentenced to 18 weeks behind bars and banned from using social networking sites for five years.
He had admitted he was hooked on the sick craze of trolling , where internet users deliberately leave abusive comments on networking sites.
One of his victim's parents hit out at Facebook, calling on the website to do more to tackle the problem after it emerged that one girl wrongly accused by others of posting the messages had attempted suicide.
Reading magistrates heard how the alcoholic, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism surfed the internet looking for tribute sites.
Trolling is an offence under the Malicious Communications Act, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison.
Sentencing him magistrate Paul Warren said: The offences are so serious only a custodial sentence could be justified.
Another man has been charged with posting offensive images on the internet after the doctored picture of a Scottish schoolgirl, shot dead by her boyfriend, appeared on a website, established in her memory.