Student jailed for Twitter comments loses appeal

Liam Stacey appearing at Swansea Magistractes court on Monday
Liam Stacey was sentenced to 56 days in prison on Monday Photo: ITV News Wales

The Swansea University student jailed after admitting a charge of inciting racial hatred has lost his bid to be freed. A high court judge dismissed Liam Stacey's appeal at Swansea Crown Court and told him he must now serve the rest of his sentence. He sobbed as he was taken away following the failed appeal.

The 21-year-old from Pontypridd posted messages on the social networking site mocking footballer Fabrice Muamba after a near fatal heart attack. The biology student was jailed by a district judge on Monday for 56 days and told he must serve half of that time in prison.

Stacey's defence argued that he had already suffered from his actions and that his sentence should have been suspended.

Liam Stacey has shown remorse for what he did that day and extends it to Mr Muamba and those close to him. Liam Stacey richly deserves to be punished for his behaviour, vile though his actions were, he is not a vile person.

– Paul Hobson QC, Defence barrister

Mr Justice Wyn Williams told Stacey he rejected the argument that he had already been punished enough. He said the Swansea University biology student had admitted an offence, racially aggravated public disorder, of intent. "He was intending to say what he said and was intending to produce the effect that he did."

We have given this matter considerable thought. The wordsused by Stacey were extremely offensive. It must be understood that Stacey haspleaded guilty to a crime of intent. A sentence of immediate imprisonment isjustified even for a young man with no previous convictions.

– Mr Justice Wyn Williams

The biology undergraduate triggered revulsion when he posted: "LOL (laugh out loud). F*** Muamba. He's dead!!!" - amongst other comments.

Fabrice Muamba
Fabrice Muamba collapsed whilst playing in the FA Cup Credit: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

Football fans watched in horror when the Bolton midfielder collapsed during a live FA Cup tie from a heart attack on March 17. Fabrice Muamba's team-mates, regular visitors to his bedside, have said the midfielder is showing continued improvement.

During the previous hearing at Swansea Magistrates Court, it was said that the 21-year-old wanted to be a forensic scientist. The district judges said that it was clear that Stacey instantly regretted the offences he had committed while he was drunk, but that he must learn how to handle his alcohol better.

When interviewed by police, Stacey said he had been drinking since lunchtime while watching Wales play France in the Six Nations. He later tried to delete his page, but police arrested him the next morning at his student home in Swansea. The magistrates court heard that he had tried to "distance himself" from the comments by saying his account had been hacked.

In mitigation his defence said he would feel the consequences of his drunken comments for years. The Swansea University student cried as his actions were read out in court and when he was told he will face time inprison. He'll serve half his sentence in jail. The court also heard that third year student now faces being expelled from University.

Police were inundated with complaints as members of the public reported the student's comments. The Swansea University student was quickly tracked down and arrested.

Fabrice Muamba in hospital
Fabrice Muamba posted this photo on Twitter from his hospital bed Credit: Fabrice Muamba

Fabrice Muamba has used Twitter today to show the world that he is on the mend and took the opportunity to thank everyone for their wishes and support.