Liverpool pensioner fined over abusive messages sent about Colston statue toppling in Bristol

The statue of Edward Colston was removed by Black Lives Matter protestors in Bristol in June. Credit: PA

A 72-year-old man from Merseyside has been fined and placed under curfew after he sent abusive messages to the Mayor of Bristol after a statue of Edward Colston was removed.

Fleetwood Spence sent six abusive emails to Marvin Rees on June 8 2020, the day after the statue of the former slave trader was pulled down by Black Lives Matter protestors.

Mayor Rees said at the time he could not condone criminal damage but that the statue was an affront to him as a mixed-race man and that he didn’t regret its demise.

Spence sent the emails via Guerilla Mail addresses, an anonymous way of communicating, threatening violence against those who supported the removal of the statue.

He was caught after police traced the emails to an IP address at his home.

He pleaded guilty to sending malicious communications at Liverpool Magistrates Court earlier this week and told police he had sent the emails after drinking alcohol because he was worried protestors would damage statues of Winston Churchill.

Mr Spence said he was worried that protestors would damage other statues in the UK, such as Winston Churchill's. Credit: PA

Associate Prosecutor Andrew Page of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: "The emails Mr Spence sent on that night were grossly offensive and really aggressive.

"The fact that he had been drinking when he sent them is irrelevant. He sent them to a public official who was in no way condoning what had happened in Bristol the day before.

"Mr Spence is clearly embarrassed at what he did on that night and pleaded guilty to the offence. People sometimes think they can write what they want to others, on their devices behind closed doors.

"But there are laws to protect the public from malicious and offensive communications and, on that night, Mr Spence crossed the line into criminality and he has paid the price."

Spence has been fined £180 and will not be permitted to go out between the hours of 7pm and 7am for the next 24 weeks.