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Saturday 20 September 2014

Man who trolled murdered teacher Ann Maguire is jailed

Published 08/05/2014 | 13:29

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Ann Maguire
School teacher Ann Maguire
Robert Riley (42) admitted posting abusive Twitter messages about the murder of school teacher Ann Maguire
Robert Riley (42) admitted posting abusive Twitter messages about the murder of school teacher Ann Maguire

A Twitter troll who delighted in the fatal stabbing of teacher Ann Maguire has been jailed for eight weeks.

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In the wake of Mrs Maguire's death, Robert Riley bragged to his followers he would not just have killed Mrs Maguire but "all the bastard teachers" at Corpus Christi School in Leeds.

The jobless 42-year-old from Cwmavon, Port Talbot, also posted a series of racist tweets claiming Nazi death camp Auschwitz was a "health spa" and suggesting that Muslim babies should be drowned.

Despite a Twitter backlash, Riley, who used the handle @johnriley001, initially revelled in his new found notoriety, boasting that he had the "biggest gob this side of the River Severn".

However, the ex-junkie cut a more forlorn figure when appeared before Swansea magistrates today.

After pleading guilty to one charge of sending a grossly offensive message via a public communications network, Riley begged for leniency.

However, chairwoman of the bench Georgina Scannell voiced her disgust and said she was left with no choice but to send the defendant straight to jail.

She said: "The offensive messages outraged the public. You had complete disregard for the tragic death of Ann Maguire.

"Besides this, countless other vile messages were made by you.

"The bench finds these were racially and religious aggravated.

"The offences are so serious that only a period of immediate custody can be justified."

Mrs Maguire was stabbed while teaching a lesson at her school on April 28.

Despite widespread shock and sadness at her death, two days later Riley saw fit to make fun of the tragedy.

And he remained incredulous following a backlash from other Twitter users, saying: "Of all the sick things I've tweeted, starvation, genocide, rape and torture, it's the teacher from Leeds that outrages everyone the most."

Prosecutor Linda Baker told the court that following a complaint to police, the defendant's other offensive tweets came to light.

Among them were messages about the missing Malaysian plane, the Korean ferry disaster and champion tennis player Serena Williams.

The court heard that at the time, Riley was subject to an existing community order for an unrelated offence.

His solicitor, Giles Hayes, said Riley, a former bus driver who left school aged 15 with no qualifications, lived an insular life.

Mr Hayes said of the tweet about Mrs Maguire: "It's a senseless act at a very sensitive time."

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