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Jan 07 2014

86 Twitter accounts

Two people – one woman and one man – have pled guilty to sending menacing messages to Caroline Criado-Perez.

Isabella Sorley, 23, of Newcastle, and John Nimmo, 25, of South Shields, admitted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court sending the messages over a public communications network.

Alison Morgan, prosecuting, said Ms Criado-Perez had received abusive messages “of one type or another” from 86 Twitter accounts including those accounts attributed to both Nimmo and Sorley.

“Caroline Criado-Perez has suffered life-changing psychological effects from the abuse which she received on Twitter,” she told the court.

“In particular, the menacing nature of the tweets sent by both defendants caused her significant fear that they would find her and carry out their threats.”

The court heard that one tweet from Sorley started with an expletive and continued: “Die you worthless piece of crap.” She was also told “go kill yourself”.

The court heard Nimmo targeted Ms Creasy with the message “The things I cud do to u (smiley face)” and called her “Dumb blond…” followed by an offensive word.

What offensive word? “Cunt” obviously. The others wouldn’t be “offensive” enough to be worth mentioning.

Following the hearing, Ms Criado-Perez told BBC Radio 4′s PM programme: “I’m really relieved that they pleaded guilty and it meant that we don’t have to drag this out any further and have a whole trial about it.

“This is a small drop in the ocean, not just in terms of the amount of abuse that I was sent, where way more people than just two were involved, but also women in general, the amount of abuse that they get online and how few people see any form of justice.”

Yeah.

23 comments

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  1. 1
    rnilsson

    Is it known when the verdict will be in? (Too lazy to scout for myself,)

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    That was the verdict, I take it; sentencing will be January 24.

  3. 3
    Maureen Brian

    Both are back in the Magistrate’s Court on 24 January. Depending on the sentencing decision there – don’t know the law well in this area – they may be sentenced immediately or sent on to a higher court for that. Other cases are, apparently, pending.

  4. 4
    rnilsson

    Of tangential interest; TRIGGER WARNING:

    That net pedophile who was (certainly morally) responsible for the suicide of a girl of 13 about a year ago was sentenced to only two years in prison for child rape after his computer was found hidden under a porch and several other girls he had abused and/or blackmailed into posing nude before webcams could be heard by police and prosecutor, who had asked for a five years penalty.

    His sentence is now up for review by a regional higher court, Göta Hovrätt, after a girl he had allegedly raped before she was 15 (legal age of consent in Sweden) who had failed to appear in the local court (Tingsrätten) to verify the accusation has now changed her story again. The prosecutor is asking for a stricter sentence this time. Verdict is expected by Friday next week.

    From Göteborgs-Posten. I don’t feel up to translating this now, sorry. Try that G thing maybe.

  5. 5
    rnilsson

    Ah. Thank you, both. IANAL (among many other things)

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    YIKES.

    Interesting about the sentencing review. I’m not sure that can be done in the US system, because of double jeopardy. But I’m not sure I’m right about that, either, because dj means there can’t be a second prosecution after a verdict of not guilty…I don’t know that it means anything more than that.

  7. 7
    rnilsson

    If new evidence comes up, and it has, the courts are free to consider retrying the case. I think. Or maybe it was already appealed to the higher court when new evidence came forward. (I’m just a third-hand, unqualified reporter here:)

  8. 8
    stripeycat

    Rnilsson, the expected sentencing is probably a jail sentence for the woman, as she has previous drunk and disorderlies, and probably non-custodial for the man as he had a clean record – the judge may throw the book at him, though.

  9. 9
    rnilsson

    Thanks for the insight, stripeycat.

    Upon reflexion, I think reopening a trial for fresh evidence is actually the norm here. Courts have great freedom in evaluating evidence before them. Proceedings are basically oral here. For example, habeas corpus is just some Latin.*

    WARNING: WRITING THIS GAVE ME HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. Continue to read at your own risk.

    There is a world-famous** serial killer who has been incarcerated for over 20 years in a mental institution, convicted for 8 murders IIRC, mainly on his own vague confessions. Very little to no actual physical evidence was ever presented.

    The curious thing is that those murders varied wildly in MO and in victims, from young boys to young girls to an adult couple camping, as well as in geography. Another curious thing is that the man was obviously heavily sedated on strong barbiturates when he was taken to confess at the crime scene and very suggestively guided by police, prosecutor, his own defense lawyer (!) as well as a few discrete “psychology consultants” who were all “helpful” in pointing out how the murders might have been committed and how the (still) missing bodies might have been disposed of. He also was allowed, from time to time, unguarded access to a library with newspapers where he could read up on the gory details and layout of the last mystery, so that he could give his inquisitors the unique answers that they were so hooked on, that only the guilty person could possibly know, and receive his reward in the form of more pills. He gradually “recalled” the most awful “repressed memories”, for more pills. Several books, papers and articles were written by those highly compassionate and professional psych people. Their findings were, after all, revolutionary.

    After a journalist started digging up some of these controversial facts and published a book (posthumously) that proved how preposterous the whole procedure had been, the chief prosecutor based on these “new” facts finally reopened those old cold cases and the previous perp was aquitted in the high court from his previous convictions, one by one, due to the total lack of factual evidence. The last and perhaps hardest nut to crack was whether he should remain in the custody of the same institution that had led him up this fascinating garden path, but I think it has now been decided that he will be treated by a different psychiatric hospital, partly in open care. He was probably not in perfect mental health to begin with, and after decades of this tragic farce … well. At least he seems likeable, sober and lucid when he appears on tv now.

    The main puppeteer of this whole sham is now deceased and unreachable for comment. The actual guilty parties to those diverse murders are also unavailable by now and the crimes are beyond the limitation of statute.

    So far I don’t think anyone has been actually prosecuted, fired or even officially reprimanded for this justice murder. We don’t tend to take things quite that far here, you see. His attorney, for example, is very well connected politically, as a partisan working at the same law firm as the former Minister of Justice (who is an honourable man***).

    * Except in another farcical case where all the prosecution could produce was eight pints of the victim’s blood in her mattress so the suspect walked. That case has also been reopened after some amateurs happened to find the body (since they actually went looking, unlike the police).
    ** Here in Sweden, at least. Cf. Thomas Quick (his alter ego as killer)
    *** Really, and a capable lawyer too.

    Ptooey. Or, in Latin, Tvi vale!

  10. 10
    Minow

    What offensive word? “Cunt” obviously. The others wouldn’t be “offensive” enough to be worth mentioning.

    No it was ‘bitch’ according to press reports. Nimmo is British and it is quite rare in Britain to use ‘cunt’ for a woman, it sounds a bit peculiar, like calling a woman a ‘cock’. This might be changing as we Americanize in that way but I think it is still generally true. ‘Cunts’ have to be blokes, usually hard-arses in a bad way.

  11. 11
    Dan Bye

    Minow: No, they don’t have to be blokes, that’s not true at all. The C word can be used about anyone as a generalised and highly offensive term of abuse. If it’s less commonly used in relation to women, and I doubt that very much, that may just be because most people would feel it is even worse when used against women. So if it is used against a women, it has extra power.

  12. 12
    rnilsson

    Revisiting those retrials in Sweden, about the blooded bed acquittal. From the fact box in this article (my translation):

    28 juli 2010: Marina Johansson disappears from her home in Spekeröd. A few days later she is reported missing by her family. A preliminary investigation is started, and her ex-boyfriend is arrested on suspicion of murder.

    January 2011: A large blood stain is found in the bed in Marina Johansson’s home. The stain is carefully hidden, and the police missed it in the first examinations of the place. A hole is found in the wall above the bed, with remains of a bullet and bone fragments. Marina’s credit card, telephone and care have been used after she disappeared. Prosecutor and police believe it is the former boyfriend who has used them. The former boyfriend denies any crime.

    12 august 2011: The ex-cohab is indicted for the murder of Marina Johansson.

    16 september 2011: The ex-cohab is acquitted in Uddevalla tingsrätt (local court). The verdict says there is a lack of technical evidence and testimony that directly ties him to the murder.

    20 september 2011: The prosecutor appeals the acquittal to Hovrätten (higher court).

    November 2011: The former boyfriend is acquitted also by the higher court, again with regard to lack of evidence.

    14 april 2012: Marina Johansson’s remains are found in Svartedalen by Missing People (a volunteer organisation).

    9 may 2012: A forensic examination shows that Marina Johansson was shot in the head at close range in her bed at home.

    8 april 2013: Riksåklagaren (national prosecutor) applies for a new hearing of the case.

    1 november 2013: Högsta domstolen (supreme court) allows a new hearing, which means a new trial in hovrätten. The ex-cohab is arrested the same day and arraigned after a few days. Re-hearing of an acquitting verdict is something almost unique in Swedish legal history and has only happened a few times before. Chefsåklagare Urban Svenkvist is designated new prosecutor for the case.

    9 january 2014: The new trial in Hovrätten will begin.

    Some excerpts from the article, also by myself:

    Peder Schillerström, one of the founders of Missing People, coordinated the search posse which became their first success. Svartedalen is a rather large forest area with many so called logging roads, used mainly by forestry machines.
    - We spoke with hunting teams familiar with the area and asked them to suggest a number of interesting roads.
    - We suspected that there was only a single perpetrator who had transported the body, so she would be found relatively close to a road. We therefor decided to search up to 50 meters into the terrain using a very tight search party chain.
    After only one hour Peder Schillerström got the first call: – Our divers had found women’s clothing and parts of bone in a lake. I went there with a police patrol and we realised the body had been found.
    Marina’s body lay wrapped in bed linen and a mattress, all of it wrapped in a white tarpaulin; which was probably lucky, because it was nearly missed altogether. A troupe of 25 were about to finish searching around the (then) dense spruce thicket, but some of them needed to relieve themselves and took a pause before going back. Then someone saw something white, well hidden among the spruce.
    - It was a wonderful feeling, both to give the family a body to bury and to give the legal system a chance to convict a perpetrator.

    (Apopogies for any strange layout or other mistakes, and also for this maudlin obsession of mine.)

  13. 13
    rnilsson

    Oh, of course I mean the excerpts were by me, not the article by Andreas Berg, Bohusläningen as the byline clearly says. Don’t mean to infringe on their copyright, but I think this constitutes fair use.

  14. 14
    Minow

    “Minow: No, they don’t have to be blokes, that’s not true at all. The C word can be used about anyone as a generalised and highly offensive term of abuse”

    Yes it can, but it is unusual in the UK to use it about a woman, it just sounds odd, partly I think because it usually includes a suggestion of machismo or hardness. This may be changing but I think it’s still generally true.

    Beside the point in this discussion but worth remembering that ‘cunt’ can also be used as a term of praise as in ‘he’s a clever cunt that one’ or just cameraderie: ‘what are you cunts drinking?’ etc.

  15. 15
    rnilsson

    Look, Minow, this point has been flogged to death more times than I care to think. And as you so cleverly put it, IT IS BESIDE THE POINT. Why not just give it a rest.
    Not that we can’t guess … and please note: that was not a question. Right?

  16. 16
    Minow

    Why not just give it a rest.Not that we can’t guess … and please note: that was not a question. Right?

    Which part wasn’t the question?

    We don’t have to talk about anything if you don’t want to. Relax.

  17. 17
    rnilsson

    Would that he took his own advice …

    Which, what, who, when, and so on – belong to a certain class of words, as you might recall if you had gone through school already.

    I know I shouldn’t engage the bait, so I’ll just leave it at the pond bottom.

  18. 18
    Ian Bertram

    Minow is making a valid and serious point about the use of language in the UK – where the offences this post is about actually took place, It is a serious point because you need to know the context of any statement to evaluate its full meaning. A statement may not be intended to be offensive by the person making it, but still be found so by the person receiving it and it may be offensive in fact too. The context can thus to a degree affect the way in which we respond to the statements- in other words are they using this language out of stupidity or ignorance or do they know exactly what they are doing? The people in the latter will usually plead to the former so we do need to understand the nuances of usage in the particular legal and social context.

    None of this should be taken as an apologetic for the two individuals referred to here. Their intent was clear and they deserve what’s coming to them (with the same reservations others have expressed about the state having the power to suppress such speech).

    …and rnilsson – the OP is actually about abusive language leading to sentencing in the UK not poor legal practice in a murder case in Sweden. However I recognise that discussion threads drift so I’m not complaining.

  19. 19
    Ophelia Benson

    Ian, no he isn’t, not really. Just for one thing, as Roland said @ 15, that claim has been done to death here (and elsewhere). For another it’s not true. For another Minow doesn’t speak for the whole of the UK. (Note Dan Bye’s demurral.) For another it’s just a shitty practice to try to excuse the deployment of an insulting epithet on the grounds that it can be used ironically, with affection, in the pub, yadda yadda. Twitter harassers aren’t using it that way.

  20. 20
    Minow

    Ophelia, I wasn’t defending the use of ‘cunt’ I was pointing out that you were wrong when you claimed it had been used in this instance and that your assumption that the word ‘must’ have been ‘cunt’ was because of cultural interference. I don’t think that merits so much irritation. We all get our facts wrong sometimes, I assumed you would rather know.

  21. 21
    rnilsson

    Ian, I am incredibly happy to read your last few words.

    Second, the OP is emphatically not about improper use of language, as Ophelia has already made abundantly clear not only here but on innumerable previous occasions, but rather about the focussed and deliberate abuse directed at one individual (in this case) by two persons using a large number of sock puppet accounts for the everloving sake of harassment. In the present instance they were actually caught and dealt with, for once in a blue moon. Ergo, it seems you are incorrect in your frail attempt to salvage Minow’s reputation on this board.

    Third, as I have explained this post concerns the legal dealings in different jurisdictions, and I was attempting to clarify a point on double jeopardy – which is peculiar to some such jurisdictions. It hurts me that my explanation went so far above your head.

    Fourth, the day I see Minow make “a valid and serious point” I shall hack a rune into an obelisk. With all due dedications, of curse.

    (I notice that Minow has just recurred, but let’s leave it at that.)

  22. 22
    Ophelia Benson

    Minow I don’t mind at all being corrected on the facts. Actually I saw via another story yesterday that the word was “bitch” – and meant to update the post to say so but ran out of time before I got to it. You were right, I would rather know.

    But that wasn’t all there was to it.

  23. 23
    freemage

    Ophelia: Your #6 prompted me to go a-Googlin’. Found an interesting paper on the subject of double-jeopardy in the U.S. here, with a bit of a focus on the notion of appealing a sentence.

    From what I gather (the meat is on page 868 of the linked bit, which starts on page 847), double-jeopardy prevention would impede the appeal of a lawfully given sentence; however, if the trial judge can be shown to have misapplied the law (by, for instance, undercutting the statutory minimum sentencing), then the prosecution can choose to appeal the sentence specifically:

    The link is just one writer’s interpretation of established case law, but it seems to be solid. So a lot depends on whether or not the prosecution can (and is willing) to declare and prove that the judge was in violation of the law.

  1. 24
    They have to be blokes, do they? » Butterflies and Wheels

    […] in this comment by “Minow” on January 8 for […]

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