27 Mar 2012

Student jailed for mocking Muamba on Twitter

A 21-year-old who posted a series of vicious tweets about Fabrice Muamba after the footballer collapsed on the pitch from cardiac arrest, has been handed a jail term for inciting racial hatred.

Liam Stacey, 21, provoked revulsion with comments made while the Bolton Wanderers star still lay on the pitch. The 23-year-old midfielder was left fighting for his life after suffering a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie on 17 March.

He was handed a jail term of 56 days by Swansea magistrates court.

Horrified fans watched live on TV as he fell to the ground during the quarter-final clash at Tottenham Hotspur. Police were inundated with complaints as members of the public reported the student’s comments.

Stacey, a Swansea University biology undergraduate, was quickly tracked down and arrested. Last week he admitted inciting racial hatred when he appeared briefly at Swansea magistrates court. Stacey was close to tears during his court appearance.

The first of his messages began with “LOL (laugh out loud). **** Muamba. He’s dead!!!”

He was released on conditional bail but warned that all options would be considered when he is sentenced. Muamba’s recovery since suffering a cardiac arrest 10 days ago has been described as “miraculous”.

The footballer remains in intensive care in hospital where his condition is described as serious but stable.

Racist language

In what only amounted to a handful of minutes, Stacey posted a series of increasingly racist tweets.

Jim Brisbane, chief crown prosecutor for Wales, said: “Racist language is inappropriate in any setting and through any media.

“We hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone who may think that comments made online are somehow beyond the law.”

Stacey’s comments provoked widespread and deep revulsion from the moment they were posted.

Muamba’s collapse generated a wave of sympathy which went far beyond football.

In court today, Gareth Jones, defending, depicted Stacey as a “kind and caring person” with friends of different ethnic backgrounds.

Stacey stood sobbing silently during the sentencing hearing.