Social media is a beguiling medium, with the feel of a chummy chat where you can make blunders with a light heart because they don’t last long – the equivalent of a misguided comment to a mate after a couple of drinks. However, friends forgive and chance remarks are forgotten – while, as some people find to their detriment – the internet is forever.
So, as a man who kicked a Royal Marine in the head is jailed after boasting online of a suspended sentence, BBC News looks at cases where users of social media have ended up in trouble with the law.
The champagne Charlie
Where we may previously have been satisfied by bragging to our mates in the pub, it’s now easy to mouth off online – and therefore announce our ill thought-out opinions not just to the general public but to the judiciary.
When Ben Scott from Redruth, Cornwall, aired his not-so-admirable jubilation at avoiding prison – posting a photograph of a bottle of Cristal alongside the sentiment “that scum can stay on the bottom of my shoe where he belongs” – he was whisked back into court and his suspended sentence became custodial.
The judge described the post – which went online a mere 45 minutes after the original sentence – as “stupid and gloating” and Scott as “stupid and arrogant”.
He’s now swapped champagne for porridge, and is serving a 12-month jail term.
The Brothers dim
Drug dealers Daniel and Samuel Sledden from Accrington, Lancashire, were so delighted with their suspended sentences they bragged on Facebook – adding a few sexually offensive comments about the judge for good measure.
Judge Beverley Lunt was having none of it and hauled them back into court, jailing them for two years apiece.
“Each of the posts indicate they have not changed at all,” she said.
“They have not taken on board anything or learned any responsibility.”
Rhyme and punishment
Two inmates admitted recording a selfie rap video using a mobile phone smuggled into a jail, after it was discovered on the internet.
HMP Birmingham prisoners Demehl Thomas and Moysha Shepherd admitted recording the video, in which they bragged about drug dealing and violent assaults on rival gang members.
Both men got a nine-month sentence to begin after their existing jail terms.
‘Doing. Tesco. Over.’
Armed robber Andrew Hennells was caught after he boasted on Facebook about his plans to raid a supermarket in a post which included a selfie, a picture of a knife, and the words: “Doing. Tesco. Over.”
Police caught him 15 minutes later with the knife and £410 in cash stolen from a Tesco in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. He was jailed for four years.
Police said Hennells’ Facebook confession had made it easier to secure a guilty plea. Unsurprisingly.
Lambeth drug dealer Junior Francis was caught after he not only boasted about his extravagant lifestyle, but illustrated his stories with photographs.
One picture he posted on Instagram showed wads of cash on his kitchen counter – and in another he was rubbing the money against his face.
Police raided his home, finding £7,000 cash and £75,000 of crack cocaine and heroin.
Francis was jailed for nearly seven years.
Bananas in pyjamas
One of the mistakes four armed robbers made when setting up their Blackberry group was calling it “Armed Robbers”.
Another mistake was using it to post photographs of themselves wearing balaclavas and waving guns.
And the third mistake they made was posing in the same distinctive pyjama bottoms (bright blue with cartoon sheep) worn when holding up newsagent shops.
Terry Sullivan, Thomas Balderston, Christopher Heath, and Christopher Aldred all of Chatham, Kent, were jailed after being found guilty of seven armed robberies.
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