Army soldier sentenced to 16 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for posting grossly offensive message on Facebook

11/03/2014

Warren Butler, a 19-year-old Grenadier Guardsman based at Lille Barracks in Aldershot was sentenced to 16 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 18 months today at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to improper use of a communications network under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

He was also ordered to pay £85 prosecution cost and £80 victims surcharge.
He will have to do 250 hours community payback and will have to undertake a diversity and prejudice course.

Kate Brown, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex said: "Warren Butler, a Grenadier Guardsman based in Aldershot thought that he could use social media to post a grossly offensive message and not face consequences.

"On 18 January, he posted on his Facebook account a racist comment, which callously referred to three-year-old Mikaeel Kular, who was found dead in Scotland the day before. The disappearance and the tragic discovery of the body of the little boy shocked many of us and it is therefore very difficult to understand how a 19-year-old is capable of making such cruel and disrespectful comments.

"Basingstoke Magistrates Court heard today how, as soon as Butler posted this message he and his family received death threats. The chain of command of Butlers regiment was alerted and advised him to contact Hampshire Constabulary.

"Whilst he was interviewed by Hampshire Constabulary Officers, Butler explained how he shared extreme right wing ideology and that being racist was his opinion and that he did not think that his comments were bad. He also said to them that he only regretted the backlash it caused to his family.

"By posting his comment he made his family a target of death threats. He has now committed a criminal offence. By pleading guilty he has admitted full responsibility of his act.

"The CPS takes very seriously offences committed via social media. The DPP's guidance on cases involving social media makes clear that the threshold for prosecuting these cases is high and must be balanced against the right to freedom of speech. However, where there is sufficient evidence for this threshold to be met, and it is in the public interest to do so, we will vigorously prosecute."