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A Twitter troll who bombarded police with vile abuse has been jailed for four years.

David Bitton sent 600 homophobic, anti-Semitic, and other abusive messages to the force and other organisations.

They included threats to Greater Manchester Police dog handlers – telling them: ‘I want a police dogs head on a stick’.

Detectives branded the social media messages ‘horrific, threatening and narrow-minded’ and said that a four-year sentence was ‘entirely justified’.

Bitton, 40, of Grosvenor Road in Altrincham , was locked up at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to 13 separate charges of sending racist and threatening communications.

David Bitton

David Bitton

An investigation was launched and Bitton was identified as the suspect. He was arrested and when interviewed said he had only written the tweets in order to gain followers, and deleted them soon after.

In one tweet he said: “I want a police dogs head on a stick.”

He also posted: “There is no 1 I carnt find.”

He then sent another tweet saying: “Including every police officer in Manchester. i already have all dog handlers addresses.”

Det Con David Stevenson from Greater Manchester Police’s Trafford Borough said: “Bitton tried to say that he didn’t mean what he had written and he was only craving attention and followers, but the contents of what was in some of his tweets was of such a horrific, threatening and narrow-minded nature that today’s sentence is entirely justified.

“Bitton will spend the next four years thinking about his actions and how they have affected the people they were aimed at.”

Manchester Evening News

The 20-year-old has been convicted after a two-week trial


BARROW terrorist Ethan Stables has been found guilty of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

Ethan Stables, 20, planned to kill people attending a gay pride event at the New Empire pub in Barrow, Cumbria.

Armed police stopped him on the way to the pub following a tip-off from a member of a far-right Facebook group where he had posted a message saying he was “going to war”.

Stables had written that he planned to “slaughter every single one of the gay bastards”.

He was unarmed when he was arrested on June 23 but police found an axe and a machete at his home, Leeds Crown Court has heard over the last two weeks.

The jury was shown a video of a burning rainbow flag and Stables saying “gays look nicer on fire”.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said Stables had previously espoused homophobic, racist and Nazi views online, and the defendant was pictured with a Swastika flag hanging on his bedroom wall.

Stables said in his defence that did not intend to carry out the attack and he was simply venting his anger online.

The defendant, who has told the court he is bisexual and has autism spectrum condition, denies preparing an act of terrorism, making threats to kill and possessing explosive.

He denied he was doing a “recce” of the venue when he was arrested and said he was heading out to sit outside the jobcentre to use the free public wifi.

Stables claimed he was a liberal and adopted a right-wing persona to fit in with people he chatted to online.

Here’s a summary of the prosecution’s case against 20-year-old Ethan Stables:

Stables was arrested on Michaelson Road – just yards away from the New Empire pub where he had told friends on Facebook he planned to “slaughter every single one” of the people at a LGBT event.

The landlord’s wife, Lorraine Neale, described how she was terrified for her customers and feared Stables would come inside unnoticed.

Police searched Stables’ flat at Egerton Court and found match head composition and weapons including a machete and an axe inside the flat as well as a swastika flag and armband.

Government explosives expert Sharon Broome has said the material found in the flat could have been used to make a credible bomb.

During his first police interview Stables made “no comment” to all questions. He told the jury this was because he was advised to do so by his solicitor from Poole Townsend and “trusted them”.

In a later interview Stables vowed to “tell the truth” and told counter terrorism officers he was right wing and admired Nazis including Adolf Hitler.

When he took to the stand, Stables shocked the court by announcing he was bisexual, and claimed he had been scared to declare his sexuality because of his grandparents’ right wing views.

Stables told the jury he was “ashamed” and “sorry” for his racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic comments and had never intended to hurt anyone.

Stables said his Asperger Syndrome and other mental health issues explained his constant attempts to “fit in” and impress his far right friends.

Phillip Loveless, the gay godfather of Ethan Stables, said he had “always expected” something to happen but had no reason to believe his godson was homophobic.

Stables’ mother, Elaine Asbury, recalled her son’s difficult childhood and expulsion from school because of his behavioural problems and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Mrs Asbury kicked her son out of the family home after he threatened to chop her head off and burn the house down. Stables had few friends and claimed he was a victim of bullying.

Character witnesses Anne Diss and Stuart Barclay from Cowran Estates farm described Stables as a pleasant and polite young man who went out of his way to make friends.

Two psychiatrists both agreed Stables’ autistic spectrum disorder would not have prevented him from knowing his threats would be taken seriously.

One expert disputed Stables’ claim he was embarrassed of his sexuality and said he had been eager to talk about his bisexual experiences.

Defence psychiatrist Dr Matthew Appleyard said Stables was suffering from clinical depression – something which can exacerbate the features of an autistic spectrum disorder.

Since being in custody Stables has attempted to take an overdose and is being assessed to consider if he should be moved to a secure mental health unit.

North West Evening Mail

Geoffrey Farquharson sent a racist and homophobic voice message to Ben Bradshaw the day before Jo Cox MP was killed

Geoffrey Farquharson, 37, leaves Exeter magistrates court after receiving a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years. Photograph: Rod Minchin/PA

Geoffrey Farquharson, 37, leaves Exeter magistrates court after receiving a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years. Photograph: Rod Minchin/PA

A man who sent a threatening voice message to senior Labour MP Ben Bradshaw the day before the killing of parliamentary colleague Jo Cox has been given a suspended sentence.

In the two-minute message Geoffrey Farquharson, 37, shouts down the phone, swears repeatedly and makes threats towards the former culture secretary. The racist and homophobic message, which was left on the answerphone of Bradshaw’s parliamentary office, was sent the day before Labour MP Cox was killed in June this year.

The message made Bradshaw fearful for the safety of his staff, Exeter magistrates court heard. District Judge Stephen Nichols sentenced Farquharson to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He was also given a 25-day community order, banned indefinitely from contacting Bradshaw or attending his constituency office, and ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs.

The judge told him: “The message was clearly homophobic, Islamophobic and racist and there was clearly a death threat to Mr Bradshaw.

“You accept through your guilty plea that the message you sent to Mr Bradshaw was highly offensive. In the message, your voice became extremely angry and you make threats and use highly offensive and abusive language.”

In the message, which was played to the court, Farquharson starts by giving his full name and address and says he has just watched a video on Facebook about Muslim extremism.

Farquharson then launches a homophobic tirade against Bradshaw, who is gay, and repeatedly goads the MP to call the police. The defendant uses highly offensive language throughout, and describes Bradshaw as “evil”.

The call was picked up by a member of the MP’s staff, who raised the alarm. After Bradshaw reported the matter to the police, Farquharson was arrested the following day.

The court heard that the MP had made a victim impact statement, in which he said: “Having had death threats before I was not unduly concerned about myself and more concerned about my staff, particularly in Exeter, who have borne the brunt of Mr Farquharson.”

He went on to say that public servants should not have to put up with threats and abuse from members of the public and that his concerns had been heightened because of the killing of Cox.

At a previous hearing, Farquharson, of Exeter, had pleaded guilty to sending an indecent or grossly offensive message. Farquharson, who suffers from mental health issues, was accompanied by his carer when he returned to court to be sentenced.

The judge heard that Farquharson had autism and a difficult upbringing. Rob Jacobs, defending, said Farquharson’s “anger and annoyance” had been building up at what he saw as “concerns for others” and he had “lost his temper”.

Jacobs said: “Mr Farquharson is both very vulnerable and probably a very lonely individual. I don’t think he would mind me saying that that he has too much time to think and ruminate on his political views. It is true that his political views are strongly held.

“He would say that he does not hold homophobic or racist views himself and the words he used were a manifestation of his anger and frustration, rather than him holding any anti-social views.”

Last week, Bradshaw said the abuse dished out to politicians on social media had got worse since the death of Cox. He told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show he believed it was now “socially acceptable” to use Facebook and Twitter to abuse politicians and he hoped the killing would lead to a “deeper reflection” about the political culture in the UK.

The Guardian

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