An internet troll who tormented the families of dead young people by posting sickening messages on Facebook tribute pages has been jailed for 14 months.
Paul Hind, 38, called Olivia Burt, a Durham University student who was found dead outside a nightclub, a “sex worker” and “prostitute”, an earlier hearing at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court was told.
He also targeted a Facebook page in memory of Hannah Witheridge, a 23-year-old who was killed on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014.
The other two memorial pages were to Joe Tilley, 24, who was found dead at the bottom of a waterfall in Colombia in May and 19-year-old Duncan Sim, whose remains were found at West Sands in St Andrews earlier this year.
Hind, of Wark in Northumberland, admitted at an earlier hearing to four counts of sending a communication conveying false information, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
He was jailed for 14 months at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday.
“While it is difficult for anybody to understand Hind’s motivation, the undue distress caused by his actions has been made painfully clear.”
Laura Witheridge, sister of Hannah Witheridge, said outside court that the trolling incident was “one of the most callous and cowardly I have had to endure”.
In a statement issued by Norfolk Police, she said: “Losing someone you love, suddenly, in tragic circumstances is the most painful thing imaginable.
“I don’t believe that, unless you have been in such a position, you can truly comprehend how torturous and unbearable it is.
“Back in March, for the first time ever, I was told something could be done.
“I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that today offers some justice for my family, and all of the other families involved in this case… and I hope it sends a strong message that sitting in a dark room, hiding behind a computer screen does not make you untraceable.
“I hope today serves as an example that crimes of this nature do come with consequence.”
Nigel Burt, the father of Olivia Burt, said after Hind’s conviction that the defendant’s actions were a “desecration” of his daughter’s memory.
Speaking outside an earlier court hearing, Hind said he was “deeply sorry” for his actions and that he had done them “for attention”.