TWO people are facing jail today for subjecting a high profile feminist to online abuse following a campaign to ensure a woman featured on British bank notes.
A man and a woman have been jailed for subjecting a high-profile feminist to online abuse.
Isabella Sorley, 23, used Twitter to tell campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez to “f*** off and die you worthless piece of crap”, “go kill yourself” and “rape is the last of your worries”.
John Nimmo, 25, told Ms Criado-Perez to “shut up bitch” and “Ya not that gd looking to rape u be fine” followed by “I will find you (smiley face)” and then the message “rape her nice ass”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.
Sentencing Sorley to 12 weeks in prison and Nimmo to eight weeks, Judge Howard Riddle said it was “hard to imagine more extreme threats”.
The pair bombarded Ms Criado-Perez with the abusive messages last year after she led a successful campaign using social media for a female figure to appear on a Bank of England note.
Judge Riddle said that, despite the defendants’ claims, the harm threatened against Ms Criado-Perez “must have been intended to be very high”.
Unemployed Nimmo also targeted his abuse at Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, with the message “The things I cud do to u (smiley face)”, calling her “Dumb blond bitch”.
The judge said the effect of the abuse on Ms Criado-Perez had been “life- changing”.
She describes “panic and fear and horror,” he said.
He added that it had also had a “substantial” impact on Ms Creasy, who has had a panic button installed in her home.
The judge said of the abusive tweets: “The fact that they were anonymous heightened the fear.
“The victims had no way of knowing how dangerous the people making the threats were, whether they had just come out of prison, or how to recognise and avoid them if they came across them in public.”
Sorley was arrested in October 2013 at her home in Newcastle and admitted to police that she had sent some of the tweets, suggesting she had been “off my face on drink” at the time, the court heard.
Paul Kennedy, representing Nimmo, described his client as of previous good character, adding: “He is a social recluse, that is exactly what he is really, he rarely leaves the house but to empty the bins.
“He sits in the house 24/7, he has nothing to do, he claims benefits, he is a somewhat sad individual.”
The court heard that university-educated Sorley has 25 previous convictions, the majority for being drunk and disorderly.
While on bail for this case, she also committed two offences of assaulting a police officer and is awaiting sentence for an assault on New Year’s Day, the court heard.
During mitigation, Sean Caulfield, defending Sorley, said she herself was a “victim” of new technology as she did not understand the impact of what she was doing.
“She understands what it must have been like now. At the time, it seems, she did not,” Mr Caulfield said.
“Maybe there’s an issue about the technology and Twitter and people understanding what it must be like on the other end.
“She is a victim of that, if nothing else - a victim of a lack of understanding of what this new technology can do and how powerful it is.”
Paul Kennedy, representing Nimmo, described him as a “somewhat sad individual” who is “effectively a social recluse”.
Mr Kennedy said that, when Nimmo’s original tweet was responded to and retweeted, it encouraged him to send more messages as he saw it as an “indication of popularity”.
“He said that if that had not happened then he would not have pursued this course of action.
“He believed at that time that there was a conversation and he was engaging in that conversation.”
Mr Kennedy said Nimmo had no particular opinion on the campaign but had seen the topic trending on Twitter and his lack of experience of social interaction meant he did not know his behaviour was inappropriate.
Nimmo, from Moreland Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, and Sorley, from Akenside House, Akenside Hill, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, pleaded guilty to sending menacing tweets on January 7, admitting they were among the users of 86 separate Twitter accounts from which Ms Criado-Perez had received abusive messages.