Man, 20, guilty of offensive posting for remarks over soldiers' deaths (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Man, 20, guilty of offensive posting for remarks over soldiers' deaths
A man who posted a Facebook message following the deaths of six British troops, including Bradford teenager Chris Kershaw , which said “all soldiers should die and go to hell” has been found guilty of sending a grossly offensive communication.
Azhar Ahmed, 20, admitted posting the message in March but told Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court yesterday he thought it was distressing but not offensive.
District Judge Jane Goodwin described Ahmed’s Facebook remarks as “derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory”.
After the trial, Ahmed left the court by a side door without saying anything and sped off in a waiting car past a number of police officers.
He avoided a demonstration of about 30 people at the front of the court building, some wearing EDL branded clothing and one flying a union flag.
The demonstrators were heavily outnumbered by police.
In court, Ahmed was bailed after the district judge told him she wanted a pre-sentence report prepared.
He is due back in court for sentence on October 9. Earlier, the district judge heard how Ahmed posted his message two days after the deaths of the soldiers.
Yorkshire Regiment soldiers Pte Kershaw, 19, Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, Pte Daniel Wade, 20, and Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, were killed alongside Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
Ahmed’s message said: “People gassin about the deaths of Soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.
“The women who have been raped. The children who have been sliced up!
“Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmful familys. All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE SCUM! Gotta problem. Go cry at your soldiers grave and wish him hell because that’s where he is going.”
Ahmed told the court he started to receive critical comments on his page and realised the second half of his post was “unacceptable”. But he denied it was “grossly offensive”, telling a judge he thought it would have been “upsetting” and caused “distress”.
Ahmed, of Fir Avenue, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, told the court he was only trying to make the point that many other deaths in Afghanistan were being ignored. He said he had no idea it would cause so much upset and as soon as he realised what reaction it was having he deleted it.
Ahmed said: “I didn’t intend to insult them at the time. When I read back on it, that’s when I realised I had actually insulted and upset a lot of people.”
He said he replied with apologies to many people who commented on his page and when some told him they had lost relatives in Afghanistan he realised how serious it was.
“That’s when I realised it was unacceptable for them to see something so upsetting and distressing, to write something like that,” he said.
But Niall Carlin, prosecuting, said the parents of one of the six soldiers who died in the incident saw the posting, which was copied around the internet.
Mr Carlin read the statement of one woman, Ashleigh Craig, who went to the same school as Ahmed and who had lost two friends in Afghanistan.
The court heard Ms Craig was “angered, upset and disgusted” by what she read and reported it to the police.
The prosecutor also said the biscuit firm Fox’s was inundated with complaints after Ahmed said he worked there on his Facebook profile.
Mr Carlin said the firm was so concerned about complaints and possible damage to their brand it was discussed at the top level of its parent company.
He explained to the court how another man, with the same surname as Ahmed was plagued with offensive calls and people waiting outside his home after his address was wrongly linked to the posting on the internet.
The court heard how this man had to be given special police protection.