Matthew Woods is an Idiot, Not a Criminal
Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last week, you couldn’t possibly have missed the news of the abduction of April Jones, the 5 year old taken while playing outside. You’ve also probably seen the news about the arrest and subsequent jailing of MatthewWoods.
In case you did miss it, Matthew Woods made ‘grossly offensive’ comments on Facebook about the abducted school girl and was quickly arrested and jailed for 3 months after admitting ‘sending a grossly offensive public electronic communication.’
This punishment was possible under section 127 of the Communication Act 2003, which reads:
127 Improper use of public electronic communications network
(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—
(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
(b)causes any such message or matter to be so sent.
(2)A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—
(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,
(b)causes such a message to be sent; or
(c)persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.
(3)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.
(4)Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to anything done in the course of providing a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (c. 42)).
The section that concerns Woods is section 1, part a – “sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive.”
How on Earth is this the law?!?! Who gets to decide what is ‘grossly offensive?’ Personally, I am grossly offended by morons who can’t use the English language properly and by people posting incoherent (and supposedly ‘inspirational’) quotes on Facebook but I don’t see them getting locked up!
What Matthew Woods did was tastless, idiotic and pretty pathetic. But it wasn’t criminal. And does this 20 year old deserve to lose 12 weeks of his life to prison for a tasteless joke? No. He doesn’t.
To put 12 weeks in prison for a joke into some perspective, take a look at these:
- 2 brothers who assaulted someone with a baseball batin Preston jailed for 12 weeks
- Man in Northampton who starved his dog to death jailed for 12 weeks
- Woman who hit a random bloke around the head in Eastbourne town centre jailed for 12 weeks
- Man who attacked and attempted to strangle his partner jailed for 12 weeks
Matthew Woods made idiotic and tasteless comments. But there are burglars and drink drivers who get away with non-custodial sentences. This was a case of poor judgement and bad humour – not a crime.
If you can be jailed for tasteless jokes then I’d imagine there’s a list of well paid TV comedians who ought to be hauled up in court as well.
What a ridiculous, pathetic and petty waste of taxpayers’ money and a petty reason to disrupt a 20 year old’s life.