Jan 7 2014
A high profile feminist and a Labour MP were subjected to "menacing" messages on Twitter following a campaign to ensure a woman featured on British bank notes, a court heard.
Caroline Criado-Perez, a 29-year-old student, was told to "f*** off and die you worthless piece of crap" and "go kill yourself" and "rape is the last of your worries" by 23-year-old Isabella Sorley in a series of tweets, Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London was told.
She also sent the message to Ms Criado-Perez: "I've only just got out of prison and would happily do more time to see you berried!!(sic) #tenfeetunder not scared at what you will do!"
In a separate set of messages sent to Ms Criado-Perez, John Nimmo, 25, told her "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", the court was told.
Nimmo also targeted Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, with the message "The things I cud do to u (smiley face)", calling her "Dumb blond bitch."
Alison Morgan, prosecuting, said Ms Criado-Perez had received abusive messages "of one type or another" from some 86 Twitter accounts including those accounts attributed to both Nimmo and Sorley.
"Caroline Criado-Perez has suffered life-changing psychological effects from the abuse which she received on Twitter," she told the court.
"In particular, the menacing nature of the tweets sent by both defendants caused her significant fear that they would find her and carry out their threats," she said.
She added that Ms Creasy had also suffered a "substantial impact" as a result of "these events."
Nimmo, from Moreland Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, and Sorley, from Akenside House, Akenside Hill, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, pleaded guilty to sending "menacing" tweets at a hearing at the court.
Ms Morgan said "extreme language" used by Nimmo and Sorley had caused "substantial distress or fear".
She said Ms Criado-Perez had described the tweets sent to her by Sorley as "horrifying and frightening and did scare me more than some of the others have".
The tweets sent by Nimmo were "menacing" to Ms Criado-Perez in their reference to rape, his message that the "police will do nothing", the suggestion that she knew him and the threat that he would "come and find" her, she said.
"It is alleged that in July of 2013 both these defendants sent menacing messages via Twitter to the feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and also to Stella Creasy, the MP for Walthamstow," Ms Morgan said, opening the case against the defendants.
"The background to these events was that prior to July of 2013 Caroline Criado-Perez led a campaign to ensure that a female figure appeared on a Bank of England note. Her campaign was conducted in a number of ways including using social media.
"It was supported by a number of high profile figures. The campaign was eventually successful in that on July 24 2013 the Bank of England announced that Jane Austen would appear on a bank note in the future."
She said following this announcement, Ms Criado-Perez had appeared widely in the media and had been congratulated publicly by a number of high profile figures on Twitter, including Ms Creasy, she said.
In the aftermath of this publicity, a "significant" number of offensive tweets were received into Ms Criado-Perez's Twitter account from "many" Twitter users involving some 86 accounts including those attributed to Nimmo and Sorley, she said.
Nimmo was released on conditional bail, with Sorley, whose previous convictions include being drunk and disorderly on 21 occasions, remanded in custody.
The pair are due to be sentenced on January 24 at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Sorley was warned by District Judge Howard Riddle that it was "almost inevitable" that she would receive a jail sentence.
He warned Nimmo, described to the court as a "social recluse" who "rarely leaves his house", that "all options" as to sentencing remained open.