herald

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Muamba tweeter loses jail appeal

After being sent straight back to jail sobbing and shamefaced, university student Liam Stacey now faces the prospect of being thrown off his course for abusing stricken footballer Fabrice Muamba.

The 21-year-old was in the final term of his three-year biology degree when he drunkenly sent his offensive and now infamous Tweets -- which mocked Muamba's plight and racially abused two Twitter users.

Despite his apparent horror at his actions and pleas that he had learned his lesson, the rugby fan saw his appeal thrown out of court.



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With the case gaining widespread publicity, his barrister Paul Hobson said Stacey's future was now in tatters. A criminal conviction for a racially aggravated public order offence has all but killed the undergraduate's dream of becoming a forensic scientist.

His incarceration means he will not be able to sit some upcoming exams -- and as a result will fail his third year.

And next month university officials will hold a disciplinary hearing to decide whether to kick out the suspended Stacey for good. Swansea University student Jon May, who is the features editor for student newspaper The Waterfront, said there was not a great deal of sympathy for Stacey -- once a popular figure.

"A lot of people have been calling for him to be expelled," added the 22-year-old business management undergraduate. "What he said has shocked a lot of people on campus.

"He's currently suspended at the moment, and a disciplinary hearing is going to take place in April." Stacey is also said to be inconsolable at the attention his parents have received -- their home in Pontypridd was reportedly pelted with eggs.

Added to that, he has also struggled to cope with life inside prison where a court heard he had "pariah status" among hardened criminals.

Media law expert David Banks said the legal case served as a stark warning to other Twitter users. He said: "One of the selling points of social networking sites is how they appear to be very conversational.

"But what you post on Twitter is not the same as what you may say down the pub after a few drinks -- and it has been shown the courts take a very dim view of people who post offensive material."

"This sends a strong message out to the people that if you post a racist message then you will be punished."

hnews@herald.ie

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