London, Jun 26: An Indian-origin British man who posted Islamophobic rants on social media in the wake of the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last year has been sentenced to 20 months in jail.
Rhodenne Chand was found guilty of stirring up racial hatred online at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday.
West Midlands Police said the 31-year-old's sentencing should be a warning to anyone who posts inflammatory messages that they could be arrested for committing hate crimes.
“This case saw the sustained release of offensive, threatening material aimed at Muslim and Pakistani communities – it left people fearing some of the threats could be carried out by him or his Twitter followers,” said West Midlands Police Superintendent Mat Shaer.
“The law is careful to try and not penalise expression of opinion, even in strong and possibly offensive terms. But Chand's tweets were a much baser expression of animosity towards a section of society and were totally unacceptable,” he said.
Shaer said his force takes hate crime very seriously and anyone found to be stirring up hatred on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality, or disability could find themselves in court and facing a criminal conviction.
“Court outcomes like this are important in order to reassure communities of our willingness to make progress in the way we tackle hate crime matches how proud we are to police such a diverse region," Shaer added.
Some of the messages encouraged violence against Muslims and for mosques to be attacked - and in one Chand claimed he wanted to “slit a Muslim's throat".
A member of the public reported the Twitter rant to police fearing Chand might carry through on his threats.
Chand was arrested on June 17 last year, admitted issuing the messages and said he felt disgusted at himself for writing the posts. He told officers he was “venting" in the aftermath of the Manchester and London Borough Market terror attacks in May and June 2017 and had stopped using Twitter since.
However, a specialist prosecutor assessed the case and determined the posts showed intent to stir up racial and religious hatred and that such “violent rhetoric can cause considerable harm once it is in the public domain".
Chand was charged with publishing threatening, abusive or insulting material intended to stir up racial hatred.