Facebook ordered to remove pictures of witness protection man


Police have ordered Facebook to remove photographs and death threats made against a man who is living under the witness protection program.

Key witness Wayne Martin was given a new identity after he gave evidence to help convict eight men including drug baron Shaun Pepperell, 37.

He was then placed in the witness protection program because police feared he could be hunted by the guilty men and their friends.

But he has now received nearly 100 death threats after other members of the gang posted a series of sinister warnings on Facebook.

They used Pepperell’s profile to post a picture of Wayne and threats such as ”I am going to kill you”, ”you are dead”, and ”you deserve to die you grass”.

Police were alerted to the threats by one of Wayne’s friends, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

He said: ”These threats were from named individuals on the web, and some of them are very nasty characters.

”I would have thought that if the police had seen this they would surely take action against these people.

”He is supposed to be in police protection, but his face was plastered all over Facebook.

”These are vengeful people who feel very bitter towards him. You cannot have people’s lives threatened in such a way.”

Wayne gave crucial evidence against the gang which saw them abandon a planned trial and change their pleas to guilty earlier this month.

They admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis at Exeter Crown Court.and Pepperell, of Exeter, was jailed for 13 years.

Detective Sergeant Wes Snell said officers had ordered Facebook to remove the page.

He said: ”We are aware that some inappropriate comments were posted on Facebook which our officers saw and they decided the most appropriate action was to get the Facebook page removed.

”I would imagine it is because he is in witness protection that these comments were made. They know he is safe, so this is a way of them venting their frustration and anger.”

Gang members Jason Hutchings, 38, Neil Western, 36, Gavin Squires, 32, Matthew Mingo, 20, Patrick Hurley, 61, and Christopher Land, 27, were all jailed.

Joshua Sprague, 20, was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years.


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