Facebook troll jailed after mocking death of teenager
AN INTERNET "troll" who created an offensive webpage mocking the death of a teenager has been jailed.
Sean Duffy, aged 25, admitted sending malicious communications to grieving relatives and friends of four children.
The family of Hayley Bates, of Biddulph, were among his victims.
The 16-year-old died in September last year when the Nissan she was travelling in on the A500 hit a parked lorry. Car driver Ian Lewkowicz, aged 26, of Hanford, was also killed.
Ruark HiFi - for lovers of good music and fantastic sound
Headphone offer is our own offer as test for these vouchers - so don't delay offer expires 25/05/13
Only with this voucher, choose a set of headphones up to 10% of the units price or add some to it if you want a dearer set
ie Unit for £300 would give you £30 towards headphones of your choice
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Saturday, May 25 2013
Eight months later, Duffy set up a Facebook page entitled Hayley Smash Nissan, where he doctored pictures of the Stoke-on-Trent College student, crossing out her eyes and posting a caption "used car for sale" and "one useless owner".
He was yesterday jailed for 18 weeks and handed an anti-social behaviour order banning him from using social networking websites for five years.
He has Asperger's syndrome and the court heard he has been bullied and isolated all his life, leading to depression and alcoholism.
He is only the second person in the country to be convicted of 'trolling', where people find information from bona fide media sources and set up inflammatory posts online.
Hayley's father, Kevin Bates of Congleton Road, Biddulph, said: "The internet is a useful tool, but you have to draw the line when it is abused like this.
"It's nearly a year since Hayley's death. It was horrific enough for her family and friends, but to be faced with this on top of everything was a nightmare."
Duffy, of Grovelands Road, Reading, Berkshire, did not know any of his victims and the court heard his life described as a "miserable existence".
He was diagnosed with Asperger's as a toddler and, after a troubled education, was told to leave his family home when his condition became too problematic, so he turned to drinking alone at his home in Reading.
Sentencing at Reading Magistrates' Court, Paul Warren, chairman of the bench, handed Duffy the maximum possible sentence, 18 weeks for each of the offences, to run concurrently.
He said: "You have caused untold distress to already grieving friends and family.
"This case serves to illustrate the harm and damage done by the malicious misuse of social networking sites."
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "Such acts of malicious communication on social media sites have no place in society and cause more distress to the families and friends of those who have died in tragic circumstances."