An internet troll has been jailed for 14 months for tormenting families in mourning by posting sick messages on social media tribute pages.
The targets of Paul Hind’s online abuse included Duncan Sim, 19, a student from Duns found dead in Fife in June after going missing in March.
Hind, 38, also called Olivia Burt, 20, a Durham University student found dead outside a nightclub, a prostitute, an earlier hearing at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court in Bedlington was told.
He targeted Facebook pages in memory of Hannah Witheridge, a 23-year-old murdered on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014, and Joe Tilley, 24, found dead at the bottom of a waterfall in Colombia in May, too.
Hind, of Westacres, Wark, Northumberland, was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court last Thursday after earlier admitting four counts of sending communications conveying false information.
Sharon Elves, senior district prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in the north east, said: “While others were offering words of comfort and condolence, Paul Hind instead posted cruel messages and images which were seen by parents still grieving for their children.
“While it is difficult for anybody to understand Hind’s motivation, the undue distress caused by his actions has been made painfully clear.”
Judge Penny Moreland described Hind’s actions as “unbelievably callous”.
Hind was arrested by Durham police in May this year and admitted he had taken to trolling as a form of attention-seeking when bored.
Mitigating, Jessica Slaughter said Hind was ashamed of what he’d done.
After the sentencing hearing, acting detective inspector Lindsay Banks-Brown, of Durham Constabulary, said: “We are pleased with today’s outcome 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.”
Olivia’s father, Nigel, who welcomed the outcome of the hearing, had earlier criticised Facebook saying: “Our dealings with Facebook 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.
“The senior Facebook executives we contacted in our attempts to stop the trolling have a total disregard for us - even now they have not replied to our communications.”