UK Facebook 'troll' convicted after comments put school on lockdown

A British internet troll has admitted threatening to kill 200 US citizens in Facebook posts which led thousands of children to stay off school.

UK Facebook 'troll' convicted after comments put school on lockdown

A British internet troll has admitted threatening to kill 200 US citizens in Facebook posts which led thousands of children to stay off school.

Father-of-one Reece Elliott (aged 24) of Fossway, South Shields, South Tyneside, went on a tribute site for a 17-year-old Tennessee girl who was killed in a car accident and left a series of terrifying messages under an assumed name.

With sensitivities heightened in the US following the Newtown shooting which saw 20 children and six adults shot in an elementary school, 3,000 pupils in the Warren County area missed school the next day, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Security was stepped up at schools across the area, as the authorities implemented “lockdown” with armed guards on duty and restricted access to sites.

Elliott appeared at court dressed in a grey top and admitted one count of making a threat to kill and eight of sending grossly offensive messages.

He has been held in custody since his arrest in February.

Using a false name, he wrote on the RIP Caitlin Talley page: “My father has three guns. I’m planning on killing him first and putting him in a dumpster. Then I’m taking the motor and I’m going in fast.

“I’m gonna kill hopefully at least 200 before I kill myself. So you want to tell the deputy, I’m on my way.”

The court heard of the abuse Elliott directed at Caitlin, a popular pupil at Warren County High who had died in a car accident in October.

This included: “I’m glad the fat bitch is dead. Let’s drink to drink driving. No-one gives a sh*t that she’s dead, get over it.

“If I was there now I would rape you.”

Using the same pseudonym, Elliott then posted the threats about driving into school.

He said: “I’m killing 200 people minimum at school. I will be on CNN.”

At his first appearance at court, Gary Buckley, prosecuting, said: “The residents of Warren County and all the people who have access to the Facebook page were clearly concerned. I am told that the local authority immediately put all the local schools in the area on what was called lockdown.

“Because of the hysteria caused, around 3,000 children were kept off school on that specific day.

“Inquiries made by the FBI and Homeland Security managed to trace the user name to an address in this area.

“The American authorities contacted police and various inquiries were made in order to identify who made these postings.

“It would appear that Reece Elliott was well aware that he was wanted.

“He handed himself into South Shields Police Station.

“He said he was a part-time troll. He said he decided to post offensive comments to see what kind of reaction he could provoke.

“He was asked if he knew what had been going on recently and he said he was well aware of the recent incidents following the shootings in schools.

“He confirmed he did post the postings on Facebook and therefore did make these threats but he didn’t expect the threats to be taken seriously and didn’t expect them to cause the reaction they did.”

Mr Buckley said by using the US terms “dumpster” and “deputy” he made his threats seem more believable to local people.

Judge James Goss QC said sentencing would be delayed until pre-sentence reports could be taken.

He said: “You will remain in custody until the sentence hearing, as I’m sure you will appreciate the offences are serious matters.

“A prison sentence is of course the inevitable sentence in respect of these offences.”

Elliott pleaded not guilty to four other counts of making threats to kill, which the prosecution accepted.

Sentencing is due to take place in the week commencing June 10.

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