Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Was Idiotic and Childish; Internet Troll Jailed for US Schools Scare

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Was Idiotic and Childish; Internet Troll Jailed for US Schools Scare

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Phillips? 0191 201 6262 ?

AN internet troll whose grossly offensive Facebook postings included threats to kill 200 US children has been jailed for more than two years.

Reece Elliott, 24, from South Shields, left abusive comments on tribute pages set up for two teenagers who died in car accidents, and when challenged, sent nasty messages to pupils living in Warren County, Tennessee, in February. After a deputy sheriff contacted him to say he would shut the page down, curly-haired Elliott sparked a security crackdown at local schools by threatening to shoot 200 children.

With sensitivities heightened in the US following the Newtown shooting which saw 20 children and six adults killed in an elementary school, hundreds saw Elliott's message and almost 3,000 pupils missed classes the next day, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Tennessee police began investigating, along with the FBI and Homeland Security. Elliott contacted his solicitor and walked into his local police station to admit what he had done when he realised the outcry he had caused.

At a previous hearing he admitted one count of making threats to kill and eight Communications Act offences.

Bridie Smurthwaite, prosecuting, said Elliott left "grossly offensive" messages to two tribute sites. On one for a teenage girl killed by a drink driver, he wrote a stream of vile abuse. And on another for a teenager who died in a car crash, he said: "I hope you rot in hell."

When Elliott's fake Facebook profile received a friend request from a local deputy sheriff, the officer was branded a "paedo".

After the lawman said he would shut down Elliott's page, the father-of-one went online again, with severe consequences for him.

He wrote on the teenage girl's tribute page: "My father has three guns. I'm planning on killing him first and putting his body in the dumpster. "Then I'm taking the motor and I'm going in fast.

"I'm gonna kill hopefully at least 200 before I kill myself. So you want to tell the deputy, I'm on my way."

Because it was posted on the site's public wall, many hundreds of people probably saw it, the court heard. …

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