Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Detective warns on Twitter rumours

A detective warned that social networking sites are increasingly hampering police investigations

A detective has warned that social networking sites are increasingly hampering major police investigations.

Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry, from Norfolk Constabulary, was speaking after Michael Tucker, 50, was jailed for 26 years at Norwich Crown Court for murdering his partner, Rebecca Thorpe, 28, and hiding her body in a freezer.

The murder happened in the village of Snettisham and during the original investigation there was widespread speculation on Twitter about the circumstances of the killing. Rumours included untrue speculation that Miss Thorpe had been decapitated.

Mr Fry said the investigation had been a "complex one" which was complicated by the use of social media. He insisted officers were not Luddites and said he regularly used networking sites himself.

But he added: "I would just urge members of the public to exercise caution when talking about a major crime like this. It is the same as gossip down the pub except amplified by thousands of times.

"This kind of misinformation made it difficult to establish whether potential witnesses had read details somewhere or knew them as fact. It also led to rumours which increased the concerns of the local community.

"I have come across social media being used in this way in the past, but this is the first time it has had such serious implications for our investigations. I understand that it is human nature to discuss these things online. I would just ask that people think twice about what they actually know and what is speculation."

Tucker shot Miss Thorpe in the back of the head after an argument at their home at The Compasses Inn in Snettisham in March last year.

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