Jail for internet troll who targeted grieving families online

 15/11/2018

​AN internet troll who posted offensive material on social media pages dedicated to young people who had died has been jailed.


Paul Hind posted lewd and abusive comments on a Facebook page dedicated to Durham University student, Olivia Burt, who died following an incident outside Missoula nightclub in the city in February.


Hind, of Westacres, in Wark, Northumberland, also targeted pages dedicated to three other young people who had died in tragic circumstances - Hannah Witheridge, 23, Joe Tilley, 24, and Duncan Sim, 19.


The 38-year-old admitted four counts of sending messages that were grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character and said he carried out the offences because he was bored and was attention seeking.


Jailing him for 14 months at Newcastle Crown Court earlier today, Judge Penny Moreland said the offences were of ‘unbelievable callousness.’


Speaking after the hearing, Acting Detective Inspector Lindsay Banks-Brown, from Durham Constabulary, said: “We are pleased with today’s sentence and hope it sends a clear message that we treat trolling as a serious offence which brings serious consequences.


“The families of Hind’s victims have suffered an unimaginable tragedy and his actions have only compounded their suffering.


“I hope today’s sentence serves as a warning to others that if they commit such offences, they will be dealt with and they will be brought to justice.”


She added: “A joint investigation by Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council into Olivia’s death remains ongoing and we are following a number of lines of enquiry.


“Our thoughts remain with Olivia’s family and friends during what has been, and continues to be, an extremely difficult time.”


Olivia’s father, Nigel, said he and his wife Paula welcomed the sentence.


“The trolling of our wonderful daughter, Olivia, is a desecration of her memory and character. It has made both of us feel physically sick and caused us huge suffering,” he said.


“Her death is still very recent and causing us tremendous heartache as we struggle to come to terms with our loss. 


“The person who carried out the trolling can only be described as a sick sadist who knows that they are adding to our anguish and gets enjoyment from this.”


Speaking earlier, he added: “Even though the Facebook posts have now gone, we keep expecting them to reappear on some other social media platform. This is causing us continuing anxiety and distress.


“We would also like to say that our dealings with Facebook have compounded our misery. They only tackle each individual issue and not the overall trolling.


“This is hopeless because as each offensive post and fake profile is removed, a new one appears within minutes.”