UK: Twitter trolls jailed for sexist threats to MP and campaigner

A man and a woman have been jailed after they subjected a high-profile feminist and an MP to online abuse after a campaign for a woman to appear on a Bank of England note.

Isabella Sorley, 23, used Twitter to tell Caroline Criado-Perez to “f*** off and die you worthless piece of crap” and “go kill yourself”. She also tweeted that “rape is the last of your worries”.

John Nimmo, 25, told Ms Criado-Perez to “shut up bitch” and “Ya not that gd looking to rape u be fine”, followed by “I will find you (smiley face)” and then the message “rape her nice ass”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

The case comes days after the former footballer Stan Collymore accused Twitter of not doing enough to combat abusive messages after he was threatened by internet trolls.

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Sentencing Sorley to 12 weeks in prison and Nimmo to 8 weeks, Judge Howard Riddle said that it was “hard to imagine more extreme threats” and that “substantial fear was caused”. The two bombarded Ms Criado-Perez with the abusive messages in January last year after her successful banknote campaign, which used social media.

Nimmo, who is unemployed, also targeted his abuse at Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, with the message “The things I cud do to u (smiley face)”, calling her “Dumb blond bitch”. Ms Creasy had congratulated Ms Criado-Perez on her campaign.

The judge said that the effect of the abuse on Ms Criado-Perez had been “life-changing”. He added that it had also had a “substantial” impact on Ms Creasy, who had become concerned for her safety to the extent that she had a panic button installed in her home.

The court was told that Sorley, who is university-educated, had 25 previous convictions, the majority for being drunk and disorderly. While on bail for this case, she committed two offences of assaulting a police officer.

In mitigation, Sean Caulfield, for Sorley, said that she had not understood the impact of what she was doing.

Paul Kennedy, for Nimmo, said that when Nimmo’s original tweet was responded to and retweeted, it encouraged him to send more messages as he saw it as an “indication of popularity”.

Nimmo, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, and Sorley, from Newcastle upon Tyne, pleaded guilty to sending menacing tweets. They were also ordered to pay £400 each to each victim.