Youth being questioned over Twitter threats
THE YOUTH who told British Olympic diver Tom Daley that he “had let down his father” by not winning a gold medal in a competition on Monday is being questioned by police over alleged threats on Twitter to drown the athlete.
The arrest of the youth (17) in Weymouth in Dorset sparked a flurry of outrage on the social messaging website yesterday, with many wrongly believing he had been arrested for making objectionable, but not prosecutable, remarks about Daley’s late father.
However, it emerged later that detectives arrested the youth after he had allegedly threatened to drown the 18-year-old athlete, who has become the heart-throb of the Olympics, and later allegedly threatened to injure those who came to the athlete’s defence.
In the first of his messages, the youth, whose Twitter address is @rileyy_69, told Daley: “You let your dad down I hope you know that.” The message was retweeted by the diver, which led to a flurry of criticism from Daley’s fans. Daley’s father died earlier this year from cancer.
Upset by the criticisms, the youth sought to apologise. “I’m sorry mate I just wanted you to win cause its the Olympics I’m just annoyed we didn’t win I’m sorry tom accept my apology.”
In another, he said “I don’t want to be hated”.
The account was then locked, but reopened shortly afterwards when another message was sent to Daley: “I’m going to find you and i’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky t*** your a nobody people like you make me sick”.
Messages were subsequently posted on the Twitter account where threats to drown Daley were made, along with other threats to shoot a fan, who was also told that he would face “a knife stuck down your f****** throat”.
By this time, the tweets were being covered by 24-hour TV news channels. A message was then posted warning Sky News not “to report me on the news again”, or else they would be “done for harrassment [sic]” and face a lawsuit.
The latest controversy over the social messaging website comes four days after the court of appeal in London cleared Twitter user Paul Chambers of sending a menacing communication in January 2010.
In the post, Mr Chambers, frustrated by snow closing Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster, wrote: “Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s*** together otherwise I am blowing the airport sky high!!”
The message was not taken seriously by staff, but it was reported to police five days later by the airport’s security manager, who discovered it online. Mr Chambers said his conviction and fine had cost him his job and made him unemployable.
However, the court of appeal made it clear that Mr Chambers’s conviction would not have been overturned if the post had been judged menacing. Under the UK’s 2003 Communications Act, indecent, offensive or threatening letters and electronic communications are prohibited.
The youth arrested yesterday is being questioned under the 1988 Malicious Communications Act, which makes it an offence to send an electronic communication that is grossly offensive, but also intended to cause distress, or anxiety to the receiver.