A sick internet ‘troll’ who posted vile videos and messages mocking the deaths of teenagers – including a girl who threw herself under a train – was jailed today.
Twisted Sean Duffy, 25, targeted Facebook tribute pages and even posted videos on YouTube taunting the dead and their families.
Among his victims was Natasha MacBryde, 15, who died instantly when hit by a passenger train near her home in Bromsgrove, Worcs., on February 13.
The day after her death he posted comments including ”I fell asleep on the track lolz” on the Facebook tribute page created by her brother James, 17.
Five days after her death he created a YouTube video called ‘Tasha the Tank Engine’ featuring her face etched onto the front of the famous train.
He also created a Facebook page entitled RIP Lauren Drew after the 14-year-old died from an epilepsy attack at her home in Gloucester in January.
Sick Duffy then posted images called ‘Lauren’s epifit’ and ‘Lauren’s rotting body’ and created a YouTube video with a picture of a coffin saying ‘Happy Mothers Day’.
He signed off the video with the sickening message: ”I don’t know why you’re all crying down there, it’s soaking here in hell.”
Jobless Duffy – who did not know any of his victims – pleaded guilty to two counts of sending malicious communications, relating to Natasha, at an earlier hearing.
Yesterday he asked for three other cases of Facebook trolling to be taken into consideration at Reading Magistrates’ Court in Berkshire.
Chair of the Bench Paul Warren sentenced him to 18 weeks for each of the offences to run concurrently – the maximum possible sentence.
He said: ”You have caused untold distress to already grieving friends and family. The offences are so serious only a custodial sentence could be justified.
”The case serves to illustrate of the malicious use and harm and damage of social networking.”
The court heard that Duffy suffered from Aspergers Syndrome and lived a ”miserable existence” drinking alcohol alone at his home in Reading.
Joanne Belsey, prosecuting, read out statements from family members of the victims – some of who sat in court – who were horrified at the abuse they received.
He first created a mock account of 16-year-old Hayley Bates, from Staffordshire, who died in a car crash in September 2010.
Duffy defaced pictures set up on her profile with big crosses over her eyes and stitches over her forehead.
One caption underneath a picture of flowers at the crash site read: ”Used car for sale, one useless owner.”
Her sister Hayley Bates messaged him after discovering the account but received no response.
Ten minutes later Duffy posted on the account’s wall: ”My sis added me, it must be boring on earth not having someone to have incest with. Love you xx’.”
He also cruelly targeted the mother of Lauren Drew on Mother’s Day following her death in January this year.
The court heard how a teenager was then falsely accused of creating the profile and video and subsequently took a drug overdose as a result of the accusations thrown at them.
Speaking outside court, Lauren’s father Mark spoke of the devastation it caused her family as they struggled to come to terms with her death.
He said: ”We were already having a hard time. Lauren was my only daughter and I worshipped the ground she walked on and this person was hiding behind a computer.
”We’re so angry, there’s so many excuses but he’s hurt us really badly.
”He caused devastation to us and other families, for so many people. It hurts but he sits behind a computer with no feeling.
”We got the best we can hope from it, we’re here for all the families. It just hurt having a hard time of it already after Lauren died.”
Her mother Carol added: ”We lost our daughter, it was really hard and then we had to deal with all this as well.
”We got out the maximum sentence but there was still no excuse for what he did.”
But Duffy’s worst abuse was aimed at public schoolgirl Natasha MacBryde, who threw herself under a train hours after she was sent an abusive message by an anonymous bully on a social networking website called Formspring.
She had also been teased by members of an all-girl clique at her #10,000-a-year school in the weeks leading up to her death.
He set up a fake tribute page on Facebook called ‘Tasha the Tank Engine’.
On the official memorial page set up by her brother James he wrote: ”I fell asleep on the track lolz” and posted images of her with text sprawled across it saying ‘spoilt dead c**t’.
Shockingly, other internet trolls joined in the abuse. One, under the name Pro Fesser, created posters of Natasha under the banner ”Whore” on the tribute site.
Another poster read: ”I caught the train to heaven LOL.”
Duffy’s final target was Jordan Cooper, 14, from Washington, Newcastle Upon Tyne – who was stabbed to death by his uncle on February 28 this year..
He created a group called ‘Jordan Cooper in pieces’ with a profile picture of a knife with blood dripping off it.
A further YouTube video was also made which contained pictures of his eyes crossed out and slashes across his face.
Again, a teenager was wrongly accused of creating the page.
Duffy’s lawyer Lance Whiteford said he could offer no mitigation but said his Asperger’s and alcohol abuse went some way to explaining why he committed the offences.
Duffy was diagnosed from a young age with Aspergers had received specialist education because of hs condition.
But it had led to years of bullying and isolation, including moving out of his parents’ home, Mr Whiteford told the court.
He added: ”In terms of mitigation there is none. I cannot imagine the trauma and anxiety caused to the families of these horrible, despicable offences.
”The condition leaves the absence of theory of the mind, quintessentially the ability that makes us human.
”He just wasn’t aware how horrible the effect was going to be on those who looked at what he had done.
”Drinking alone he leads a very miserable existence, committing offences like this has spread the misery 1,000 fold.”
Previously cautioned for a similar offence in 2009, he described Duffy as living an isolated life and had been the subject of bullying in education and work.
He is currently on care and incapacity benefit.
Duffy was also given a five year ASBO and is prohibited from creating and or accessing social network sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Bebo and Myspace.
But Mr Warren warned the list was not exhaustive with future sites able to be added to the order.
Duffy must also inform police of any phone he purchases with internet access.
Speaking outside court, Lauren’s father Mark called for the operators of social networking sites to take more responsibiilty for their content.
He said: ”The web is a wonderful thing if used right but as you can see in this case it was used wrongly.
”We were lucky, if that is the right word, he was here in the UK. He could have been in the States and how hard would it have been to track him down then?
”Facebook is very hard to get hold of in this situation. You can report these things but there’s no one to actually speak to.
”It comes up, it’s removed and then it reappears.
”These days children live on facebook, it’s their lives and they’re just so vulnerable.”