A Chorley man who posted offensive and sexual remarks about missing five-year-old girl April Jones on Facebook has been sent to prison.
Magistrates sentencing Matthew Woods, 19, of Eaves Lane, Chorley, said his remarks were so ‘completely abhorrent’ they had no choice but to hand him a custodial sentence of 12 weeks.
Around 50 members of the public cheered as the sentence was read out at Chorley Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Woods, who is unemployed, admitted posting the four remarks, which also included references to Madeleine McCann, on Wednesday last week.
Proceedings were called to a halt on two occasions after people shouted comments at him from the public gallery.
David Edwards, defending, said the offensive comments, which included references to the colour of missing April’s hair,
had made him “public enemy number two, second only to the person who carried out the crime”.
Mr Edwards said: “The biggest fear and the biggest impact will be the retribution of others.”
The court heard how Woods had been drinking with friends last Wednesday when he decided it would be “amusing” to post comments on social networking site Facebook.
Almost immediately a number of people began responding, some issuing threats.
A short time later, a “mob” of around 50 gathered outside his home.
Woods was later arrested at a home in Brinscall after a number of complaints from members of the public who had seen the posts.
Mr Edwards said: “The reason for his initial arrest was to prevent any harm to him.
“He explained it had started off as a joke and it had gone wrong. He will have to live with this.
“He will always be known as the man who has made these comments on Facebook. That will be the greater punishment.
“The enormity of what this young man has done has finally sunk in after spending the best part of the weekend in cells.
“He does seem genuinely remorseful and regretful about what he had done.
“At the time of posting these comments, not once did he think he would find himself where he is.
“The defendant had been drinking when he made the Facebook posts.
“He said he thought it would be amusing.”
Chair of the bench, Dr Hudson, handing him his sentence, said: “This is what I can only describe as a disgusting and despicable crime, and one the bench find completely abhorrent.
“The words used and the references made to a current case are nothing less than shocking.”
Outside crowds of people gathered after piling out of the court to hear the outcome of the case.
Annette Clitheroe, 35, of Hallwood Road, Chorley, said: “The comments were disgusting and I don’t think the sentence was enough.
“I can’t imagine what the
family of that poor girl is going through.”
Mark Bridger, 46, is accused of abducting and murdering April Jones, who has not been seen since going missing from Machynlleth in Wales last Monday.