Teenager sentenced for racist Instagram post

|News, Hate crime

A teenager from Liverpool has been given an eight-week community order and ordered to pay £500 costs for putting racist language on her social media profile.

South Sefton Magistrates' Court heard that Chelsea Russell, 19, had posted rap lyrics which included racist words in her personal profile on her Instagram account.

A screen shot of the profile was sent anonymously to Merseyside Police’s Hate Crime Unit and Ms Russell was brought in for questioning.

In court, Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor Angela Conlan asked Ms Russell if she agreed that the words she had used were offensive. Russell said that she did not.

However, Police Constable Dominique Walker, who works in the Hate Crime Unit, gave evidence that the terms Ms Russell had used were “grossly offensive” to her as a black woman and to the general community.

Angela Conlan, for the CPS, said: “We authorised Merseyside Police to charge Ms Russell with sending by a public communication a grossly offensive message.

“Her defence argued that the Instagram profile was not public as only Instagram members could access it.

“But the CPS successfully proved in court that anyone could access the profile and see the offensive language. We also sourced case law that showed that posting the profile on her account constituted sending it and making it public.

“The District Judge agreed with us and found her guilty. The CPS applied for the sentence to be uplifted as it was a hate crime. The District Judge agreed with this too and increased the sentence from a fine to a community order.

“He imposed an eight-week curfew on Ms Russell to run from 8pm to 8am as well as the community order. She must pay costs and an £85 victim surcharge.”

Notes to editors

Angela Conlan is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service

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