Jail warning for mum over racist Facebook outburst

STATUS UPDATE Posting on Facebook landed Michaela Turner in court
STATUS UPDATE Posting on Facebook landed Michaela Turner in court
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A MUM-of-one has spoken of her regret after sending an offensive message on Facebook that landed her with a criminal record.

Michaela Turner, 23, was given an eight-week prison sentence – suspended for six months if she stays out of trouble – at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.

She pleaded guilty after being charged by police with sending a grossly offensive electronic communication on the social networking site.

After the court case, Turner told The News the ordeal had been ‘horrible’ as she found herself being handcuffed and arrested on her doorstep just 24 hours after the message was posted.

Turner said the message referred to starting a riot following the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, in Woolwich on May 22.

Turner told The News: ‘I was drunk. I saw photographs of what those two blokes did to Lee Rigby.

‘I thought it was disgusting and this should not be happening.

‘I was with my friends and went on the computer. The thing that set me off was when they said “women and children in our country die like this all the time”. That was it.’

She added: ‘It was directed at the two people that murdered the soldier, not a whole ethnic group of people. Instead of it just being aimed at them, it sounded like it was aimed at everyone.

‘I did not mean it to be like that, but after a couple of drinks, it came out the wrong way and was not appropriate.’

Turner, of Lumsden Road, Eastney, was shocked when police arrived on her doorstep on a Friday evening.

‘They came round and arrested me,’ she said. ‘I have never been arrested for anything in my life – it was a whole new experience for me.’

Turner said the experience of being questioned at the police station was traumatic. She said: ‘It was horrible.

‘There’s people out there – paedophiles, murderers – but I understand why they (the police) did it. I suppose they thought it was instigating – I do understand.’

Turner stressed that she is not racist.

She added: ‘There’s a lot of Muslims out there that are really nice people and I have Muslim friends. They were just extremists.’

She added: ‘I have come straight off Facebook. I don’t want to be involved in it. I have a five-year-old little one.

‘What I did was stupid at the end of the day. It was a mistake and won’t happen again.’

Meanwhile, police have warned that social network users will be dealt with firmly if they break the law.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Hindle said: ‘We will deal quite robustly with anybody inciting racial hatred on their posts online.

‘There is a very wide audience for Twitter, Facebook and other posts on social media.

We learnt through the riots of 2011 that one individual posting can have a big impact on hate activity and encourage others to carry out illegal acts.’

PRIVACY SETTINGS ON SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES ARE VITAL

PEOPLE are unaware of the dangers of using social networks, an expert from the University of Portsmouth has said.

Dr Alice Good, a senior lecturer in human computer interaction, said: ‘There is a complete lack of awareness of how open your profile can be. They aren’t being racist necessarily but they put things online and they don’t realise if they haven’t set their settings properly, that anyone can see it and use their remarks against them.

‘Online it’s there for the whole world to see. Employers may be able to see what you have written.’