Jail sentences for racist social media posts
Two social media users have been handed prison sentences for posting a video expressing extreme racist views on social media in January this year.
Jake Henderson (30), from Retford in Nottinghamshire, recorded the video during a televised briefing by the Home Secretary, making derogatory comments about her ethnicity, before going on to make insulting remarks about people from different ethnic backgrounds. He posted the three-minute video on a private social media group.
Robert Cumming (26), from Doncaster, reposted it on his own profile, from where the video went viral, with over a million views over the course of a weekend. The video and the sentiments expressed within provoked widespread condemnation and concern from members of the communities targeted by Henderson’s verbal attacks.
The CPS authorised charges of sending by public communication a grossly offensive message and prosecuted Henderson and Cumming together as a hate crime. They pleaded guilty at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on 28 June and were today (12 August) sentenced to ten and six weeks respectively. During the sentencing, the CPS presented evidence that Henderson in particular had previously expressed views of an extreme nature and had previous links to a far-right organisation.
Janine Smith, CPS Chief Crown Prosecutor, said:
“This video and the vile sentiments expressed targeted individuals and communities and caused widespread distress and concern. The CPS has treated the case as a hate crime from the outset. We presented comprehensive evidence about Henderson’s background, including previous offences, demonstration of expressing views of extreme prejudice and association with a far-right group to demonstrate that this is not an isolated incident, but part of a concerning pattern of behaviour, fuelled by extreme views. And we have been clear to the court that in reposting the video, Cumming was endorsing Henderson’s hate for these people and communities.
“Hate crimes and online abuse are heinous crimes, which can have a significant impact on the people targeted and our wider communities. In the days after the video went viral, the CPS and other agencies were contacted by numerous people expressing concern that individuals held these views and had aired these so publicly. We take this sort of offending extremely seriously and by prosecuting this case as a hate crime, we stand by the diverse communities we serve and ensured these individuals faced the consequences of their actions.
“Henderson has admitted to the court that he acted out of hostility to people from different ethnic backgrounds and Cumming admitted that his actions demonstrated hostility. As this is a hate crime, we applied to the court to uplift the sentence and the court has taken this on board by passing an immediate custodial sentence instead of a suspended sentence."
Henderson was also convicted of possession of class B drugs for an amount of cannabis found in his home when he was arrested, but received no further penalty.
Notes to editors
- Janine Smith is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the East Midlands.
- The term ‘hate crime’ is used to describe a range of criminal behaviour carried out by one or more perpetrators, such as verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment and assault as well as damage to property.
- For more information see our dedicated hate crime page and most recent CPS hate crime statistics on the CPS website.