The Southern Daily Echo, The Portsmouth News, The Huffington Post and The Metro have all reported on the trial of a man charged with incitement to violent disorder during the riots last summer, including posting comments on Facebook encouraging attacks on Muslims.
From the Southern Daily Echo:
“Jurors have retired to consider their verdict over whether a mechanic used Facebook to try to incite a riot during last summer's riots.
“Mitchell Stancombe is accused of making a number of comments on social networking site Facebook on August 9 that incited violence or disorder during the riots including writing: ''When are we going to start the Southampton riots then?''
“When told to shut up by a friend, the 21-year-old replied: ''LOL - do a few coppers in.'' Southampton Crown Court heard how he then made another post encouraging an attack on Muslim people.”
Stancombe’s comment inciting violence towards Muslims read: “f*** them. Hardly can do f*** all if we get loads together and have a right go. And why we are at it – the muslim revolt: give it to those c***s as well.”
The article continues, “Stancombe, from Totton, denies encouraging and assisting people to commit violent disorder under section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.
“Hampshire police had been monitoring sites like Facebook during the riots in an operation costing £400,000. When Stancombe was arrested and questioned at Lyndhurst police station, he told officers the posts were an ill-advised joke and he did not intend to encourage anyone to riot.
“Asked whether with hindsight he should have made the comments, he told the court: "I would never have written anything like that at all." But the prosecution allege Stancombe was serious and the posts could have incited others - even though no disorder took place in Southampton.”
There have been several cases of late on the arrest and conviction of individuals charged with inciting hatred or attacks against Muslims on social networking sites. In December last year, a man was arrested in connection with a threat made on Facebook to bomb a mosque. In April, five suspected EDL supporters were arrested on suspicion of making racist comments on social networking sites, and another man, also with alleged EDL links, was arrested in connection with threats made on Facebook to carry out an ‘Oslo-style’ attack against Asian restaurants in Tyneside.
The Demos report, Inside the EDL, demonstrated the centrality of social media as an organising and communications tool for far right racist groups claiming that the EDL was a “facebook group with a militant wing”.
UPDATE: Stancombe was handed a prison sentence of three years, which the judge stated was a "deterrent sentence to demonstrate this type of conduct will not be tolerated by the courts". See BBC News and The Guardian.
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