Student jailed for offensive comments on Twitter

British football fans were shocked earlier this month when Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a match against Tottenham Hotspur on 17 March. The 23-year-old player had suffered a massive cardiac arrest and, incredibly, his heart stopped for 78 minutes as emergency medical teams struggled to stabilise his condition.

While much of the country was in shock, football fans of all teams united in support for the critically ill player, with many supporters from rival teams sending ‘get well’ messages, flowers, gifts and other symbols of their hope for his recovery. Social networks quickly filled up with messages expressing disbelief, but also offering support, with the Twitter hashtags #Pray4Muamba and #PrayForMuamba gaining enormous momentum as fans awaited news about the player’s collapse.


Fans have united in support for the ill player. Image via BBC Sport

But not everyone was sympathetic to Muamba’s condition. Swansea University student Liam Stacey chose to reflect on events by posting offensive comments on Twitter about the footballer. The first of his tweets read: “LOL. F*** Muamba. He’s dead!!!”, while further comments featured various racial slurs.

The tweets were quickly spotted by other users, who swiftly reported them to police forces across the United Kingdom. Perhaps recognising the backlash against him, Stacey attempted to delete his Twitter account - @liamstacey9, which has since been removed – but was subsequently arrested before he was able to do so.  


Liam Stacey, 21, in the light-coloured jacket. Image via Wales News Service

Stacey initially attempted to deny any knowledge of the tweets, telling police that his Twitter account had been hacked. However, he later confessed that he had been drinking earlier in the day, and was drunk when he posted the comments to Twitter, telling police: “I was at the bar when I heard what had happened to Muamba. I don’t know why I posted it. I’m not racist and some of my friends are from different cultural backgrounds.”

This morning, BBC News reported that Stacey has been jailed for 56 days for a racially-aggravated public order offence.

Fabrice Muamba, meanwhile, continues to recover in hospital, where he is currently in a “serious, but stable” condition. His Bolton team-mates will tonight replay the match against Tottenham that was suspended when he collapsed ten days ago.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Hotmail and Live Services disrupted in the UK

Next Story

Trivia Tuesday: Facts about Windows Live Messenger

71 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Just out of curiosity, if in the UK you jail someone just for a post on twitter, how do you prosecute murderers, rapists, pedophiles? You torture them or something?

Heartripper said,
Just out of curiosity, if in the UK you jail someone just for a post on twitter, how do you prosecute murderers, rapists, pedophiles? You torture them or something?

You jail them ... for longer. Really, was that hard?

Kirkburn said,

You jail them ... for longer. Really, was that hard?

Well, if you start jailing people for such insults you'd get half of your population in jail and nothing changed. Even a fine is enough for something i bet Muamba himself doesn't care about.

Heartripper said,
you'd get half of your population in jail and nothing changed
No, you wouldn't get half the population in jail, because most people do not espouse insulting rhetoric. Plus, I imagine it would actually change a lot - but that doesn't mean I support such a thing.

Kirkburn said,
No, you wouldn't get half the population in jail, because most people do not espouse insulting rhetoric..

They don't do it usually, but it may happen, in a moment of anger or stress, that you insult someone but you didn't really mean it. Yeah that guy was drunk, but I think he was stupid rather than a criminal.

In the UK, racisim in football is VERY frowned upon.

That being said, like mentioned, 900000000000000000 other jackass say far worst things on the internet and nothing really happens. They are words, nothing else.

His Twitter account should have been banned but thats about it.

htcz said,
In the UK, racisim in football is VERY frowned upon.

That being said, like mentioned, 900000000000000000 other jackass say far worst things on the internet and nothing really happens. They are words, nothing else.

His Twitter account should have been banned but thats about it.


You're being reasonable so you obviously don't work for a gov't.

The other users that reported him are quite frankly guilty of crimes against humanity in my opinion, and should be jailed indefinitely.

Censorship is one of the most heinous crimes there is.

The way I read this is that racists can incite, as long as they don't use commonly identifiable slurs. Then they're just asses.

You can be a racist, just don't sound like it.

My heart goes out to the guy who collapsed though.

See why those that came across the pond to what became America made FREEDOM OF SPEECH the FIRST amendment? (not that that last 20 years of politicians give a d*mn).

The 1215 charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.
The charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world, and it was Magna Carta (rather than other early concessions by the monarch) which survived to become a "sacred text".[3] In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period did not in general limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England[4] and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.[5]

Jerome Green said,
The 1215 charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.
The charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in the English speaking world, and it was Magna Carta (rather than other early concessions by the monarch) which survived to become a "sacred text".[3] In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period did not in general limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War it had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England[4] and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.[5]


And, unbelievably, I was taught that in the US public school system.

There is at lease one European country out there with absolute freedom of speech (with one exception - Holocaust denial) and that is the Netherlands. The current Dutch Prime Minister wants to decriminalize holocaust denial too, not because he doesn't believe in holocaust but because he believes in freedom of speech with no exceptions. I am sure there must be more European countries.

The reason why I am saying this is that the moment you criticize British laws that is against the freedom of speech, a lot of Brits say "Freedom of Speech is an American value". No, no, no. Freedom of Speech in Europe is as old as it is in the US.

I have absolutely no sympathy for this guy. However, I'm hopeful that the relatively short prison sentence will allow him to reflect on his stupidity, and become a better person as a result.

Realistically speaking though it'll much more likely just remove any chance he had at being a functional member of society and instead force him in to a life of crime.

Oh good grief...

That is nothing compared to the things people say on Twitter. Mostly..a lot of references to in-bred breeding...incest...and certain usages of animals. And that's just from people that lose games on their X-Box.

ZakO said,
Why did this guy get jailed, yet the people who crash soldiers funerals/homecomings shouting hate, burning flags/poppies/etc are 'exercising free speech' and never get charged (one of many many examples: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/eng...eds/bucks/herts/8439541.stm)

The law was written specifically to protect minorities. That is why there are lot of Brits out there who would feel like Muslims in the country better protected than themselves.

ZakO said,
Why did this guy get jailed, yet the people who crash soldiers funerals/homecomings shouting hate, burning flags/poppies/etc are 'exercising free speech' and never get charged (one of many many examples: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/eng...eds/bucks/herts/8439541.stm)

Because those people are Muslims and/or Arabs.

Muslims get a free pass in the UK. Really, they get carte blanche to f*** things up without repercussions.


Welcome to the Most Holy United Sharia Kingdom of Britain.

That's a good start. Now hopefully we can extend this to cover the endless amounts of keyboard warriors on YouTube and various other media

Androidslave said,
That's a good start. Now hopefully we can extend this to cover the endless amounts of keyboard warriors on YouTube and various other media

Ugh, YouTube, that would take down the entire UK court system!

Shaun said,
And we pay to house Abu Qatada who incites terrorist acts but we can't extradite him.

He is British. Where are you going to extradite him to?

AtriusNY said,
He is British. Where are you going to extradite him to?

Actually, he's Palestinian, so we could extradite him there, or to Jordan, where he was born.

MightyJordan said,

Actually, he's Palestinian, so we could extradite him there, or to Jordan, where he was born.

What I understand from the papers is that he has a British passport. He is a Brit as much as anyone else on that island.

The Laughing Man said,
Why did they even have to mention he was a student? What relevance does that have to anything in the story?

Because a university student should know better than to tweet racist bigotry about a public figure who was (at that time) fighting for his life.

Cute James said,

Because a university student should know better than to tweet racist bigotry about a public figure who was (at that time) fighting for his life.

I think its more to demonstrate his age and how early in his life this has happened to him.

kcbworth said,

I think its more to demonstrate his age and how early in his life this has happened to him.

I believe the 'Liam Stacey, 21...' caption serves that purpose.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."[6]

Jerome Green said,
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."[6]

Do You really think anyone cares about your rights? Think again...

Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one's ideas via speech. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity and incitement to commit a crime.

One less troll on the internet

This is not America, where everyone has a right to be a jackass. Free speech doesn't mean do whatever you want in other countries.

Spirit Dave said,
“LOL. F*** Stacey. He's in Prison!!!”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I was going to say that!!!!!!!
u idiot loolzz

Thats the first thing that came to my mind lol

SinghKing said,

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I was going to say that!!!!!!!
u idiot loolzz

Thats the first thing that came to my mind lol

Sorry man ... I must admit, I didn't even check but I was surprised no one had at that point

I doubt he was jailed just for a few comments on twitter, there's likely more to the story that we know of currently.

MiukuMac said,
I doubt he was jailed just for a few comments on twitter, there's likely more to the story that we know of currently.

Nope, it is the law in the UK. Unbelievable but true.

MiukuMac said,
I doubt he was jailed just for a few comments on twitter, there's likely more to the story that we know of currently.

Nope, believe it or not, thats all there is to it. There was recently a sth american footballer who was abused in Spanish, so he had a Spanish conversation back, and it turned out that a Spanish word he used meant something else in English (even though the conversation was in Spanish!) and the guy, who was new to the country and didnt even speak English was banned for 1/4 of the season. There is a real over sensitivity in the UK for some reason.

man people need to grow some thicker skin. Society is turning into a bunch of whining cry babies who cannot take an off color comment. WAAHHHHHH!!! bunch of bitches. grow up.

+TheLegendOfMart: : No ones saying the guy isn't / wasn't being a dick. I just think arresting people for being ***holes is a waste of police time.

Bag said,
+TheLegendOfMart: : No ones saying the guy isn't / wasn't being a dick. I just think arresting people for being ***holes is a waste of police time.

It's against the law, Inciting racial hatred is an arrestable offense and if its strong enough then punishable by jail time.

the420kid said,
man people need to grow some thicker skin. Society is turning into a bunch of whining cry babies who cannot take an off color comment. WAAHHHHHH!!! bunch of bitches. grow up.

you think these laws were written yesterday or something? you were either unborn or still sucking on your moms tits while this law was established.

linsook said,

you think these laws were written yesterday or something? you were either unborn or still sucking on your moms tits while this law was established.

Do you think jailing people is right as long as it is the law? The UK has a history of jailing homosexuals or forcing them to get a hormone treat. Was it also the right thing to do back then because it was the law?

AtriusNY said,

Do you think jailing people is right as long as it is the law? The UK has a history of jailing homosexuals or forcing them to get a hormone treat. Was it also the right thing to do back then because it was the law?


So you think its acceptable to be racist?

TheLegendOfMart said,

So you think its acceptable to be racist?

Of course not. Should you put everyone in jail that insult one and other. Where do you stop?

I just say this is not something that you can put people in jail unless they say "Let's come together and kill Muamba"

AtriusNY said,

Of course not. Should you put everyone in jail that insult one and other. Where do you stop?

I just say this is not something that you can put people in jail unless they say "Let's come together and kill Muamba"


This thread isnt about EVERYONE though, its about this cretin who posted racial abuse which is illegal in the UK, the judge decided to make an example of him and he went to jail, deal with it.

TheLegendOfMart: I don't contest that its against the law, I simply mean to point out that in my view its a bit of a stupid law. Its effectively throwing people in jail for being "mean" - what's more, its only applicable if the person your being "mean" to happens to be rich & famous.

Considering the crap people say on the internet, it seems a bit stupid this guy was arrested just because he happened to insult a "celebrity". People have said far worse things without ever facing repercussions. This just seems like a waste of public money to arbitrarily enforce some random censorship. "/

Neobond said,
I guess the difference here is that he offended enough people to warrant action?

Yeah but anyone can get "offended" for anything, so where does it end?

xendrome said,

Yeah but anyone can get "offended" for anything, so where does it end?

Yep.

What's that saying? It's not what you know, it's who you know...

Seems in instances like this it's not what you say, it's who you say it to, and how badly they want to make you eat your words. (and I'm not saying I agree with the comments, I didn't even read them, but if he didn't threaten to harm anyone, it's just an opinion no matter how misguided.)

I would say that this violates his free speech and he shouldn't have been arrested. But after looking up the UK free speech laws, it looks like he did break them. That sucks for him. It's such a trivial thing to get arrested for.

spacer said,
I would say that this violates his free speech and he shouldn't have been arrested. But after looking up the UK free speech laws, it looks like he did break them. That sucks for him. It's such a trivial thing to get arrested for.

He is free to incite racial hatred but he is not free from the consequences of breaking the law.

Voice of Buddy Christ said,
Which means the UK...and really, most of Europe...doesn't truly have free speech.

Nor does anywhere...? What's your point?

TheLegendOfMart said,

He is free to incite racial hatred but he is not free from the consequences of breaking the law.

People do worse, and get less. That is wrong.

Xerax said,

People do worse, and get less. That is wrong.

The judge decided to make an example of him, if he wasn't such a cretin he would probably have got away with a caution/slapped wrist.

Voice of Buddy Christ said,
Which means the UK...and really, most of Europe...doesn't truly have free speech.

The UK has never had the rights to free speech. Thats an american amendment.
We have simular laws in place, but its mostly to protect the right to have our own thoughts, acting up on them is still illegal. lol

sagum said,

The UK has never had the rights to free speech. Thats an american amendment.
We have simular laws in place, but its mostly to protect the right to have our own thoughts, acting up on them is still illegal. lol

I don't agree with that. Freedom of Speech started in Europe with "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen". Declaration of Rights dates around the same time American constitution was written.

While I agree that in Europe Freedom of Speech is not protected as much as it is in the US (i.e. Holocaust denial is a crime in many European countries to prevent some from rewriting the history), in many European countries it is still far more protected than it is in the UK. The UK is for some reason obsessed with religion, minorities and races. Saying anything that can put any one of those groups in a bad situation may cause someone to be put in jail.

Btw, I am Turkish and being Turkish is probably not the best thing to be in countries like the Netherlands or Germany. Yet again, I don't think that anyone should be put in jail for calling me a "F*king Turk".

AtriusNY said,

I don't agree with that. Freedom of Speech started in Europe with "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen". Declaration of Rights dates around the same time American constitution was written.

While I agree that in Europe Freedom of Speech is not protected as much as it is in the US (i.e. Holocaust denial is a crime in many European countries to prevent some from rewriting the history), in many European countries it is still far more protected than it is in the UK. The UK is for some reason obsessed with religion, minorities and races. Saying anything that can put any one of those groups in a bad situation may cause someone to be put in jail.

Btw, I am Turkish and being Turkish is probably not the best thing to be in countries like the Netherlands or Germany. Yet again, I don't think that anyone should be put in jail for calling me a "F*king Turk".

This.

Americans need to stop viewing world events through red, white, and blue glasses.

And mark my words, our time of "free speech" (if it ever REALLY existed) is quickly coming to a close.

AtriusNY said,
Freedom of Speech started in Europe with "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen". Declaration of Rights dates around the same time American constitution was written.

Note: to be more specific, that was a 'founding' document of the French Revolution.