A London man has pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to three counts of disseminating a terrorist publication and one of inciting murder. His wife has previously pleaded guilty to disseminating a terrorist publication. Both now await sentencing.
The case follows the murder Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south-east London in May 2013. Royal Barnes, 23, posted videos on YouTube calling the attack a “brilliant day” and mocking the outpouring of public grief. Mr Barnes’ wife, Rebekah Dawson, 22, also uploaded the videos to the social media site.
One of the videos is reported to show Mr Barnes laughing uncontrollably as he drives past floral tributes left after the attack on Lee Rigby and saying “this is where the British soldier died”.
Another video was found on Mr Barnes’ computer showing him pretending to be a suicide bomber at London’s Finsbury Park station. It was also reported that Mr Barnes had also offered a reward to his 500 ‘friends’ on Facebook for avenging the rape of an Iraqi woman in June last year. It read, “Any1 who kills an invading soldier in Muslim land I will give them a Vauxhall Astra 3door and money (French British American any kaffir soldier take ur pick).”
Reports will now be prepared ahead of the sentencing.
Given the seriousness in which these crimes are being considered by the Old Bailey and the CPS, it is likely that a prison sentence will follow. The Judge has already indicated that there may be a prison term of between five and a half and six and a half years.
Only last month, two individuals were imprisoned for sending threatening messages through Twitter. Isabella Sorley, 23, and John Nimmo, 25, were imprisoned for only 12 and 8 weeks respectively after pleading guilty to sending by means of a public electronic communications network messages which were menacing in character, contrary to Section 127(1) (A) of the Communications Act 2003, a different offence to what Mr Barnes and Ms Dawson have pleaded guilty to. Once again, this acts as a reminder that social media and online posting can and will be treated as a real and very serious means of communication and penalties will be considered accordingly.