Merseyside footballer Shaun Tuck was jailed after sending a string of anti-Muslim tweets in the wake of the Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Tuck, 26, a former Marine FC striker who now plays for Witton Albion, in Northwich, admitted using the social network to call for mosques in the UK to be “gassed out or bombed”. The drink-fuelled online tirade also referred to beheading Muslim children and called for a riot in response to the tragedy.
Liverpool magistrates’ court was told Tuck, of Mollington Avenue, Norris Green, had been drinking after hearing the news of Drummer Rigby’s death on May 22. He tweeted the offensive messages over a number of hours on that day and in to May 23.
Eddie Handley, prosecuting, said the matter was reported to police and, after being arrested, Tuck admitted sending the tweets. When questioned by officers he said it was out of character and the result of his emotions running high. The court was told the tweets were deleted within a matter of hours after they were posted.
Rachel Oakdene, defending, said Tuck worked hard, holding down a job as a kitchen delivery assistant based in Bootle alongside his semi-professional football career. She said a jail term would jeopardise both jobs and leave him “with nothing”. Ms Oakdene added: “It is always a sad occasion when somebody like this young man appears before these courts. He is of positive good character. He is very industrious and is a man of talent.” The court was told Tuck, who had no previous convictions, accepted what he did was wrong and would face disciplinary action both from his club and the FA.
Jailing him for 12 weeks district judge Miriam Shelvey said Tuck had tweeted during a period of “heightened racial tension” when community leaders, religious leaders and the victim’s family had called for calm. She added: “These tweets contained threats of violence to innocent persons, including children, who would be victims solely because of their religion. They were promoting hatred of other community members entirely because of their religious beliefs.”
Ms Shelvey said the fact Tuck was drunk was an aggravating factor in the case, though she had taken into account his early guilty plea and references to his good character.
The court was told Tuck would be expected to serve around half of the sentence.
It is good that Tuck was made an example of. Hopefully this will deter other EDL sympathisers from inciting hatred online. However, there is a worrying lack of consistency in the sentences handed out for such crimes. Recently two EDL supporters from Grimsby, Matthew Tyson and Steven Ballard, were convicted of posting calls for the town’s mosque to be burned down. Their posts were immediately followed by an arson attack on the mosque. Yet they only received suspended prison sentences.