Trial By Twitter: 21-Year Old Student Liam Stacey Jailed For 56 Days Over Racially Abusive Muamba Tweets

Chris Wright

27th, March 2012


By Chris Wright

Liam Stacey, the 21-year old ‘Twitter troll‘ who was arrested after posting several racially offensive Tweets about Fabrice Muamba midway through an all-day drinking session on March 17th, has been sentenced to a stint in prison for his troubles. Liam Stacey will be ‘Stacey, Liam’ for the next 56 days.

Stacey, a second-year Biology student at Swansea University, was told by the District Judge at Swansea magistrates that his actions were ‘vile and abhorrent’ and that there ‘was no alternative to an immediate prison sentence.’

Take note: a couple of drunken Tweets = a custodial sentence and a potential scotched life for an obviously aspirational young man. Yes, the lad acted like a tactless prick and we’re not attempting to make light of his conduct, but jail seems…well, a tad ‘Draconian.’

It would appear to be a very harsh, emotionally-swayed verdict, but alas freedom of speech doesn’t entitle you to be abusive, racially or otherwise. That said, you can’t help but feel Stacey has been made an example of out here.

Even taking Twitter in isolation, if they just begin by chasing down, arresting and imprisoning anyone and everyone who has ever called Stan Collymore a ‘f**king black bastard’ or posted toxic filth about Patrice Evra on his truly shocking Twitter ‘favourites’ feed (some of which is far more violent and pernicious than what Stacey had to say about Muamba) then the magistrates of the land will have just upped their workload ten-fold.

Are we looking at the first of many ‘trials by Twitter’?

Posted in Bolton Wanderers, FAIL, Media

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  1. can I honestly just say? says:

    punishment is deserved and completly fair. ‘Draconian’?… sounds like you’re trying to start an argument.

    p.s. it SHOULD be an offence that is prison worthy. maybe people will stop being so painfully ignorant.

  2. Mr. Sparkle says:

    If he was a virgin before entering prison, he definitely won’t be after his stint.

  3. kurt says:

    freedom of speech DOES entitle you to say whatever you want. otherwise it isn’t freedom after all.
    of course what he said was wrong, but serving jailtime over stupid tweets is excessive.
    Also, John Terry should also go to jail if he is found guilty in the Ferdinand case if this poor bloke has to serve time.

  4. anon says:

    56 days in prison that is absolutely insane, does what he has done merit that harsh a punishment, this kids life is now done and dusted (university over, chances of a descent job over). Yes he was stupid and obnoxious but this knee jerk and reactionary and sets a vile precedent that should concern everyone trial by popularity contest.

  5. aaron says:

    prison is definitely excessive, any ambitions this lad had are completely fucked

  6. Mona says:

    I’m tired of the drunk excuse. Being drunk doesn’t hide the human being behind the bottle. It’s the opposite. It’s truth serum. I’m applauding this verdict!

  7. Mr. Sparkle says:

    @kurt. freedom of speech is different in the U.K. and the Commonwealth countries. It’s limited by hateful speech, which this was.

  8. Murray says:

    @Mr. Sparkle–That still doesn’t sound much like there’s “Freedom of Speech”. People don’t have freedom unless a society is willing to accept that people will make bad choices with it.

    As abhorrent and deplorable as some things which people can (and do) say are, if a State is going to seek to punish people for any of it, then speech just ain’t free.

    A true free speech society would recognize that while individuals CAN share their abhorrent and deplorable opinions publicly, other individuals also have the freedom to respond to it. Abhorrent language can get someone fired from a job, expelled from a university, or otherwise turn one into a social outcast; it should not get someone sent to jail.

    The only times I believe where speech should get someone in actual legal trouble is when it’s used to actively encourage violent and/or criminal behavior or cause unneeded mass panic (i.e. yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater).

  9. gamblino says:

    That’s how we don’t have those “God hates faggots” (Westboro Baptist Church) nutballs here too.

    I think this is a bit over the top as a punishment for someone being a pissed up dick. Much worse happens. Don’t fancy his luck banged up as a racist.

  10. Rich says:

    Yeah, all of the cosmopolitan inmates will be up in arms about his neanderthal views.

    Or were you making a different point? Ahem…

  11. chimpo says:

    Was just having a look through some of the ‘favourites’ of stan collymore.. this guy is particularly offensive/brainless!/brendandurgan

    how has he not been convicted/arrested if this is the norm now?

  12. Al says:

    absoluet disgrace of a sentance, how can the judge justify this, as the article says you see all sorts of worse abuse on twitter and facebook so how can singleing out one idiot make any difference other than to ruin this guys life.
    being drunk and abusive on twitter = life completely ruined, not sure I like where society is headed if thats the kind of unbalanced punishments being doled out.
    I have seen people who viciously assuulted someone when drunk get much lesser sentances than this

  13. Sameer says:

    If that kid deserves jail term, then surely John terry deserves to be hanged. If you follow the trend set here, that is

  14. Tom says:

    Too many internet lawyers here, who don’t know what they’re talking about. The judges were right, it’s against the law…. punishment may have been a bit harsh

  15. @can I honestly just say? says:

    How can you be offended by this article yes draconian a complete over reach. Muggers get less in this joke of a justice system.

    I you think people aught be put imprisoned for saying unpopular things then you your self are ignorant to trust those in authority so much.

    What happens when when majority get it wrong? it was once a unpopular to not be racist, and homophobic etc. Imagen If they made it illegal to talk of equality and gay right back then?

    South park had the analogy best a “Death camp of tolerance”.

    The Law is force, force is based on the willingness to initiate violence, being willing to initiate violence as some one disagrees with you is vile. I’m offended by it CALL THE POLICE!

  16. Bonnie Prince Charlie says:

    The quote above — “but alas freedom of speech doesn’t entitle you to be abusive, racially or otherwise” — has an internal contradiction. You either have freedom of speech, or you don’t, threats notwithstanding (which would constitute assault). There is obviously no such thing as freedom of speech in England. What next — arrest children for calling each other names? That’s abusive too, isn’t it? Sheesh.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “If I had a large amount of money I should certainly found a hospital for those whose grip upon the world is so tenuous that they can be severely offended by words and phrases and yet remain all unoffended by the injustice, violence and oppression that howls daily about our ears.”
    – Stephen Fry

    Glad to live in the land of the free.

  18. QPR says:

    Terry deserved to be hanged? You got that right but I thought that even before he came out as a racist.

    This is definitely excessive. I had thought a whole bunch of community service would be sufficient.

    Also, not one country has free speech, not one.

  19. K-Force says:

    How is it sensible that we live in a society that gives yet to mature imbeciles the right to get rightly wankered then act in complete horror and surprise when they make an indecency of themselves, surely a public humiliation by manner of a vegetable barrage would have sufficed. Truly, the racism in his comments are far less prevalent than ones I’ve encountered even from people of authority in my own experience. I always looked forward to the day that our society would start imprisoning people for being a twat, but lough this moment meets me with complete discord, reflective of a justice system that 1. doesn’t know/understand/have sense as to what racism is and 2. made a complete mockery of the law (once again).

    And justifying Liam Stacey’s comments using the old Senecan reasoning of defending a man’s right to say whatever garble he can fart into a telephone doesn’t make you any more honourable as Liam stacey is right now…#just sayin’.

  20. usrick says:

    One thing to be learned from this case is that “freedom of speech” means something entirely different in the US than it does in England. I, for one, would rather let even idiots like this guy and the “christians” who spout their “God hates fags” nonsense at, of all places, military funerals have their say than have the government be empowered to decide what thoughts, ideas or speech is acceptable and what is “offensive” and therefore subject to criminal prosecution. Whatever one might call the right to say what is is inoffensive, and only what is inoffensive, it does not deserve to be called “freedom of speech.”

  21. QPR says:

    There is no freedom of speech in the US, shout Fire in a theatre, joke that you have a bomb in the airport or tell the nearest policeman that you wish the president was dead.

    All 3 will mean you get arrested.

  22. Sam says:

    This is excessive. How can the innumerable other examples of this go unpunished, or punished to a lesser degree?

    I always don’t see the difference between racist and homophobic incidents. Surely there is no difference in reaction, and therefore in punishment?

  23. Sense says:

    ugh, there’s free speech, but it can be curtailed in England for the public good. This public good includes a right for people not to be racially abused, or vindictively abused like in this case.

    I don’t see why people think it’s good that people are allowed to behave like this in a public forum like twitter, it’s not like the government are impugning your right to be a c*** on your own, or criticise them, etc.

  24. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    “Freedom of speech” does NOT entitle you to racially abuse anyone, let alone a man fighting for his life.
    There’s a million analogies you could use. I’m pretty much free to surf the internet as I please. However, if I was to download some paedophilic images I would be breaking the law. 99.9% of society wouldn’t do this and are free to do as they wish. the 0.1% cross the line society sets and are rightly punished.
    Same with speech.

    No sympathy for the guy to be honest, his brand of racism was especially spiteful and sharp. It wasn’t the kind of thing someone says be accident. His defence of “some of my friends come from different racial backgrounds” was so predictable and belongs in the 70’s. It’s pretty clear he believed in what he was saying and backtracked as soon as he realised he was in the poop. He didn’t sound quite as lagered up in the apologising tweets funnily enough either.

  25. Steve says:

    Last week, in Canada, a one Graham James was sentenced to 2 (yes, two) years in prison (he’ll be out in much less than that) for sexually abusing two young men – former NHL’er Theo Fleury and his cousin – hundreds of times (yes, hundreds).

    Someone being sentenced to 56 days in prison for the above offense does not surprise me. Nothing surprises me anymore. It’s all gone to shit.

  26. pETE says:

    Its a joke. And its a rule thats only going to be enforced if a black person is the target. They are after all, the medias darlings in sports and entertainment.

  27. Mr. Sparkle says:

    Canadian justice system is broken, although that can be said about the majority of the world albeit China, Russia and N. Korea.

  28. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    “They are after all, the medias darlings in sports and entertainment.”
    What are you on about there?

  29. Its good to see everybodies feedback – more or less, we seem to be on the same wavelength.

    It was disgusting behaviour – such that i see everyday in the town i live. In theory, i would have enjoyed seeing this justice. Now i have actually seen it, I understand it is not justifiable to imprisson somebody for this long for 3 odd racist comments.

    Its a demonstration of the gradual loss of rights & a closing society.

    How about if i support the “rights of a republic” – will i be arrested for treason?

  30. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    How would supporting a republic be construed as hate crime?

  31. Davy says:

    I can’t help but feel this is a little excessive. Would community service not have been more appropriate?

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