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.
Update: Troll Jailed
30th October 2010. Based on article from
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.
Offsite Comment: Do not jail the troll
Thanks to pbr
7th November 2010. Based on
article from guardian.co.uk
by Ally Fogg
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?
... Read the full