A teenage lout who posted a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook has been punished by meeting Army veterans and serving soldiers – for a cup of tea.
Linford House, 19, known as Linney, was arrested after the disrespectful image was seen on the internet during the early hours of Remembrance Sunday.
The controversial photo showed a cigarette lighter with a flame burning the bottom of a British Legion paper poppy with the words: “How about that you squadey [sic] ****s.”
House sparked public fury with the prank and was detained for more than a day under the Malicious Communications Act. Police also seized his phone.
But Kent Police confirmed the Canterbury College student will not face prosecution.
Instead House met an ex-naval marine, a sergeant major, members of the Royal British Legion and representatives from an army-affiliated charity at an undisclosed location on Wednesday.
The army veterans and serving personnel discussed the impact of House’s actions and how they affected others – as part of Kent Police’s new “restorative practice” programme.
House met the veterans on the same day the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer said people should face a trial only if comments on Facebook go beyond being offensive.
The student, who is on a practical environmental studies building course, had to be moved out his home in Aylesham, Kent, after the offensive picture appeared on November 11, this year.
Just hours after the picture was published an online hate campaign lead by the English Defence League outed the teenager as ‘Linny “Power” House.’
EDL members attached his personal contact details to the burning poppy image.
They captioned the photo: “If anyone wonders why the English Defence League take to the streets and protest against those who disrespect our country’s way of life and Laws.”
Naked pictures from the suspect’s social media pages were also posted as a wave of public anger appeared to mount against him following the allegations.
It later emerged House’s grandfather Ronald was a merchant navy seaman who was awarded a workers’ VC for diving into icy water to try to save a sailor near the coast of Newfoundland in 1954.
His father Keith, who plays for Snowdon Colliery Rugby Club, described his son’s actions as stupid and said he could not remember posting the picture on the internet after a night out.