Briton sentenced to community service for ‘offensive’ tweet
A Twitter user who was found guilty in a UK court of posting a “grossly offensive” tweet about a war veteran has reportedly been sentenced to 150 hours of community service.
Joseph Kelly, a 36-year-old man from Glasgow, tweeted last year about Captain Sir Thomas Moore, a British war veteran who has become a national icon for raising funds for healthcare workers in 2020.
“The only good British soldier is an act, burn an old guy buuuuurn,” Kelly wrote on Twitter in February 2021 the day after Moore died.
Kelly was drunk, almost immediately regretted sending the tweet, then deleted it after about 20 minutes, his lawyer Tony Callahan said, according to Scottish newspaper The National.
“His level of criminality was a drunken post, at a time when he was emotionally struggling, which he regretted and deleted almost instantly,” Callahan reportedly said, adding that Kelly only had a handful of followers at the time. ‘era.
“He accepts that he was wrong,” added Callahan. “He hadn’t anticipated what was about to happen. He took action almost immediately to delete the tweet, but by then the genie was out of the bottle.
Nonetheless, British prosecutors were seeking a prison sentence under a controversial UK law punishing online posts that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or threatening nature” with up to six months behind bars.
Sheriff Adrian Cottam, who was responsible for sentencing Kelly, reportedly told the court that his punishment was important for “deterrence”.
“It’s important for other people to realize how quickly things can spiral out of control,” Cottam reportedly said. “You’re a good example of that, not having a lot of followers.”
“Deterrence is really about showing people that despite the steps you’ve taken to try to call things back, as soon as you hit the blue button, that’s it,” Cottam added.
Kelly was found guilty under Section 127 of the UK Communications Act, which is to be replaced by the country’s sweeping Online Safety Bill. Critics, however, fear the new legislation could also lead to lawsuits similar to Kelly’s, hitting citizens with stiff penalties for posts deemed “harmful” based on vague notions of public morality.
Other Britons who have been convicted under the same law as Kelly include a law student who was sentenced to community service for sending racist messages to a football player and a woman who posted Holocaust denial songs on YouTube.