A man jailed for posting sick messages on his Facebook page about missing schoolgirl April Jones has had his 12-week sentence cut.
Matthew Woods made derogatory comments on Facebook about the five year old and also Madeleine McCann who disappeared in Portugal in 2007.
The 20-year-old’s comments led to a mob of around 50 people descending on his home in Chorley and magistrates sending him to youth custody as they imposed a maximum term last month.
He successfully appealed against his sentence at Preston Crown Court yesterday, having claimed the 12-week term was excessive and that magistrates should have given him credit for his guilty plea.
The term was reduced to eight weeks which means he will be released any day now.
Woods, who had been living at Eaves Lane, Chorley, pleaded guilty to an offence of sending a message or other matter that was grossly offensive. He has served 23 days.
Police had to attend his address earlier this month after a group of about 50 people were out looking for Woods.
His Facebook comments, posted about a couple of days after five-year-old April disappeared, included “Who in their right mind would abduct a ginger kid?”
He had 21 previous offences on his record, including violence, damage, dishonesty and two public order offences.
Judge Anthony Russell QC said Woods’ previous convictions indicated he had little concern for the feelings of others. His barrister Joanne Shepherd told the court he was deeply ashamed of his behaviour and the custodial sentence had been a short, sharp shock.
Miss Shepherd added “He has never received a custodial sentence in the past. This had led him to reconsider the way his life was going at the time.
“He understands the outrage. He understands he will have to relocate.
“Perhaps the biggest punishment will be once he regains his liberty - the restrictions he has placed on himself through the reaction to his posts.”
Judge Anthony Russell QC, the Recorder of Preston, said the remarks posted by Woods had been “disgusting, offensive and very shocking”.
He added “In our view, it is in the top sentencing category for such an offence.
“This was a bad case and after a trial the sentence would have been at the top of the range of 12 weeks.
“We reduce it to give him credit for his guilty plea.
“We hope the short, sharp shock has indeed had its effect on him because, given his record, if he goes on offending in the way he has, he only has longer sentences to face.”