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Man who trolled dead people’s Facebook accounts including murder victim Hannah Witheridge appears in court

PUBLISHED: 23:03 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:49 31 August 2018

Hannah Witheridge. PHOTO: Archant

Hannah Witheridge. PHOTO: Archant

Archant

A ‘sick sadist’ who posted offensive material on the social media accounts of dead young people has admitted to four separate offences.

Paul Hind arrives at Northumberland Magistrates' Court, where he is charged with four counts of malicious communications, after he is alleged to have targeted families of tragic young people. Thursday August 30, 2018. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA WirePaul Hind arrives at Northumberland Magistrates' Court, where he is charged with four counts of malicious communications, after he is alleged to have targeted families of tragic young people. Thursday August 30, 2018. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

One of the deceased young women targeted by 38-year-old Paul Hind was Hannah Witheridge, from Hemsby.

Miss Witheridge died aged 23 on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014.

She was killed alongside fellow holidaymaker David Miller, 24, from Jersey in the Channel Islands, hours after attending a party on the small island known for its laid back atmosphere and scuba diving.

Mr Hind also called Olivia Burt, a Durham University student who died from head injuries after an incident outside the city’s Missoula nightclub in February, a “sex worker” and “prostitute” on Facebook.

South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday, August 30 that the defendant, of Westacres in Wark, also doctored an image of Burt and posted pictures of children who were “clearly terminally ill” on her Facebook page on April 20.

Speaking after Hind had admitted four separate offences of conveying false information which was indecent or grossly offensive, relating to four dead people, Nigel Burt, from Hampshire, said his actions were a “desecration” of his daughter’s memory.

Describing how the postings had made him and Ms Burt’s mother, Paula Burt, feel ‘physically sick’, he said: “The person who carried out this trolling can only be described as a sick sadist who knows that they are adding to our anguish and gets enjoyment out of this.

“Even though the Facebook posts have now gone, we keep expecting them to reappear on some other social media platform.

“This is causing us continuing anxiety and distress.”

Mr Burt added: “We would also like to say that our dealings with Facebook have compounded our misery.”

He said the social media giants only tackle individual posts and not “overall trolling”, describing this method as “hopeless”.

The other counts related to the deaths of Joe Tilley, 24, who was found dead at the bottom of a waterfall in Colombia in May, and 19-year-old Duncan Sim, whose remains were found at West Sands in St Andrews earlier this year.

District Judge Kate Meek, sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court for sentence on September 27, and praised the Burt family for sitting in on the proceedings.

Speaking outside court after the hearing, Hind said he was “deeply sorry” for his actions and that he had done them “for attention”.

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