Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sobbing Student Jailed for Muamba Tweets; Comments Vile, Says Judge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sobbing Student Jailed for Muamba Tweets; Comments Vile, Says Judge

Article excerpt

Byline: Antony Stone

A HANDCUFFED student sobbed yesterday as he was jailed for mocking footballer Fabrice Muamba on Twitter after he collapsed during a match.

Liam Stacey, of Pontypridd in South Wales, broke down as he was given a 56-day custodial sentence for making what a judge called "vile and abhorrent" comments.

The 21-year-old briefly fell into the arms of his mother as he passed the public gallery at Swansea Magistrates' Court when he was taken away yesterday.

Mr Muamba collapsed from a heart attack while playing for Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur on March 17.

While the 23-year-old's fought for his life, a drunken Stacey went online.

The first thought of the Swansea University undergraduate was to post the tweet: "LOL (laugh out loud). **** Muamba. He's dead!!!" In what only amounted to a handful of minutes, Stacey posted a series of increasingly racist tweets and his sentence yesterday was seized upon as sending out a stiff warning that racism on the internet will not be tolerated. Jim Brisbane, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Wales, said: "Racist language is inappropriate in any setting and through any media.

"We hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone who may think that comments made online are somehow beyond the law."

Stacey's comments provoked widespread revulsion the moment they were posted. They were all the more reviled because of their contrast to the millions of words of sympathy posted online by well-wishers.

In court yesterday, Gareth Jones, defending, depicted Stacey as a "kind and caring person" with friends of different ethnic backgrounds.

Stacey stood sobbing silently during the sentencing hearing.

District Judge John Charles listened as he was told that the student was due to take final exams in his biology degree. …

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