A former soldier from Livingston posted furious messages on a Facebook page urging people to “behead ragheads” on the day Drummer Lee Rigby was brutally murdered. Ex-infantryman Paul Fisher – who served two tours of duty in Iraq – claimed he was venting his anger following the killing outside Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, London.
Livingston Sheriff Court heard the 28-year-old – who suffers from combat stress – went on to the “Stop Destroying Our Armed Forces” Facebook page after being told soldiers were being banned from wearing their uniforms in public. Police officers in North Yorkshire who were monitoring the site – which had over 18,000 members – spotted the post and passed the information on to their colleagues in Scotland.
Fisher, who was described as having an “exemplary” service record in the army, admitted that his racist message was “intended to incite others to carry out serious violence and kill others”.
Fiscal depute Catherine Knowles, prosecuting, said Fisher told cops who asked who he was referring to in his posts that they were aimed at “extremists”.
She said: “When asked about posting to behead people he said that he did that out of anger but understood the gravity of the post and that people reading it would get the wrong impression. He was asked about the term ‘ragheads’ and stated this was an Army term from when he served in Iraq. He stated on a number of occasions he was not a racist.”
Fisher, of Dedridge, Livingston, appeared for sentence last week after earlier pleading guilty to committing a breach of the peace by his use of social media on May 22.
His solicitor, Anna Murphy, said Fisher had posted the inflammatory messages in response to a post by another individual. She said: “Once he calmed down he deleted his post before the police came to see him. Police initially advised him that they didn’t view it as being sufficiently serious to take it any further. Obviously somebody more senior reviewed that decision.”
Sheriff Kenneth Hogg commented: “I’m in no way surprised somebody reviewed it, given the post, which was totally and utterly unacceptable.”
Miss Murphy added: “He tells me the comments were not intended by him to incite violence. They were very ill-judged indeed but he never intended to act on the comments made.”
Sheriff Hogg remarked: “The difficulty is when you put out such inflammatory material, not everyone who reads it is necessarily sober or able to dismiss it as the rubbish it is.”
Miss Murphy said Fisher had served two six-month tours of duty in Iraq with the Royal Scots Infantry between 2003 and 2007. He had been discharged with an exemplary service record but had faced some difficult experiences while serving, including coping with the deaths of some close friends in active service. However, he had since been diagnosed with combat stress.
He was sentenced to 270 hours of unpaid work and put under social work supervision for two years.