FACEBOOK “troll” Jessica Chantelle Cook has been given a suspended jail sentence for posting offensive material on a tribute page for murdered Sunshine Coast woman, Justine Jones.
Cook, 22, pleaded guilty in Gympie Magistrates Court for helping create a Justine Jones hate page and posting offensive remarks and photographs under the fake name of Wendy Woods.
The content of the fake page included images of pornography and human remains as well as comments from Cook boasting about her “achievement” at having the page mentioned in the media. Cook described herself as a “troll” - a person who defaces internet tribute sites to cause grief.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin handed down a penalty to reflect the hurt Cook had caused to Ms Jones’ family and the anger and outrage felt by the community.
“No other sentence can reflect the severity of the crime… What you did was appalling, abhorrent, incomprehensible and sickening,” Mrs Baldwin said..
“I need to send a message to other trolls that if they come before the courts they will be dealt with (severely).”
Cook was sentenced to three months in jail suspended for three years and probation for two years.
She was also placed on a bond to be of good behaviour for three years with a recognizance of $3000.
In Cook’s defence, lawyer Michael Connolly said his client had been the target of bullying from a young age and had started trolling six months ago because she was “depressed and lonely”.
He said Cook suffered from various behavioural conditions and “trolled” the internet to get back at the types of people who bullied and harassed her all her life.
“The internet was a place of solace for a troubled young woman… She created a loud and opinionated persona (and) used the internet to release her frustrations,” he said and told the court that Cook linked up with other trolls and felt socially accepted by these nameless, faceless people.
Cook, who has no prior criminal convictions, was charged with using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence on Thursday, July 22, after police tracked her down with the help of a “cyber-sleuth”.
Mrs Baldwin said she intended to ban Cook, of Aparima Court, Gympie, from having any sort of computer, but decided it would only isolate her further.
Cook was banned from accessing social networking sites and will only be allowed to use the internet for employment, financial affairs and study.
Mrs Baldwin also ordered all offensive material to be removed from Cook’s computer before it is returned to her.