SWANSEA, Wales (The Blaze/AP) — The student who mocked Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba on Twitter after the player collapsed on the field during a match has been jailed for inciting racial hatred.
Liam Stacey, a 21-year-old student at Swansea University, admitted to the charge last week and was jailed Tuesday for 56 days.
Chief prosecutor Jim Brisbane says “we hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone who may think that comments made online are somehow beyond the law.”
Muamba’s heart stopped beating on its own for 78 minutes after he collapsed during an FA Cup quarterfinal match against Tottenham on March 17. He remains hospitalized in intensive care.
According to the Guardian, Stacey’s original racist tweet – allegedly reading “LOL, F*** Muamba. He’s dead.” — was criticized by those on the twittersphere, which resulted in offensive and racist retaliatory posts toward those attacking him:
Stacey branded people who criticised him on Twitter as “wogs” and told one to “go pick some cotton”.
The Guardian reports that Stacey wept during the hearing yesterday, and his defense attorney Gareth Jones said his client “lost his head” in making those tweets. He said that the university Stacey attended as a biology undergraduate student has asked him not to return.
Stacey said he was drunk at the time of the tweets and does not consider himself racist. The Guardian reports district judge John Charles saying the the “racist abuse” was “instigated as a result of a vile and abhorrent comment about a young footballer who was fighting for his life.” Judge Charles acknowledges that it is clear Stacey regretted the post later and that he had better “learn to handle [his] alcohol”.
CNET reports Stacey was found guilty of violating Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for “sending by a public communications network a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”. CNET speculates that with this ruling British courts will see similar cases for which “judges will, hopefully, be able to discern between the threatening, the hateful and the simply humorous.”
Others have questioned if the court went too far with jail time for a drunken tweet that was regretted. What do you think?