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Internet troll escapes jail for Lee Rigby murder conspiracy harassment

Published 27/08/2015

Christopher Spivey arrives at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court in Essex, where he will be sentenced for harassing the family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby
Christopher Spivey arrives at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court in Essex, where he will be sentenced for harassing the family of murdered soldier Lee Rigby
Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered as he returned to his barracks in Woolwich in May 2013 (Family handout/PA)

An internet troll who claimed the murder of Lee Rigby was a conspiracy designed to provoke anti-Islamic feelings has escaped an immediate jail term after refusing to accept he did anything wrong.

Grandfather Christopher Spivey, of Rochford, Essex, posted a series of comments on social media about Fusilier Rigby's killing - including claiming the soldier had never existed and that the story of his murder was a conspiracy.

He also made direct contact with members of the Rigby family.

The 52-year-old denied harassment and sending grossly offensive messages over social media but was found guilty after a two-day trial at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

A sentencing hearing today heard that Spivey continues to protest his innocence and stands by the claims.

Sentencing him to six months in prison suspended for two years, District Judge John Woollard said: "I have been a district judge for 17 years and very rarely I come across conspiracy theorists like you.

"Experience tells me it's pointless telling you you are wrong because you believe I am part of the conspiracy.

"You totally fail to accept that what you were doing had a profound and shattering effect on the family.

"They had been thrust into the public eye and were bereaved in a terrible way and then they're contacted by somebody like you making the most ridiculous comments and claims.

"All because sitting in your bedroom in Rochford you come to the conclusion that MI5 and various other organisations are conspiring to mislead the public.

"You will be convinced until you die that you are right and everyone else is wrong."

The judge also made Spivey subject to a restraining order banning him from posting on blogs or social media and contacting Fusilier Rigby's family.

Fusilier Rigby, from Greater Manchester, was murdered as he returned to his barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, on May 22 2013.

He died of multiple cut and stab wounds.

Michael Adebolajo was given a whole-life term and Michael Adebowale was jailed for a minimum of 45 years at the Old Bailey for his murder last year.

Prosecutor Simon Bravey said Fusilier Rigby's mother, Lyn Rigby, was the first to be alerted to Spivey's Facebook posts.

This included claims that the murder was a hoax and part of an MI5 conspiracy, that pictures of him had been altered and a series of "bad taste" comments.

In a statement read to the court, Mrs Rigby said she found his claims "extremely disturbing" and "sick".

Spivey also posted the family's home addresses and private photographs.

He contacted Fusilier Rigby's sister, Sarah McClure and claimed her husband, Rob, also a soldier, and Fusilier Rigby were the same person.

She said this left her fearing that her family could be targetted by extremists.

"I no longer feel safe in our house and feel certain we will have to move," Mrs McClure said in a statement.

During the trial, the court heard Spivey made the bizarre claims on a website where he regularly posts his opinions about world events.

The judge expressed concern that Spivey's website was still running.

The latest post, made yesterday, claims to offer the "true facts" behind the case and outlines the belief that Spivey was illegally arrested.

The judge pointed out that Spivey had recently posted claims that the Tunisia beach massacre did not take place and expressed doubt about the Glasgow bin lorry deaths.

Judge Woollard said: "Families are understandably distressed to have lost loved ones and then find themselves subject to these claims."

Solicitor Miss Williamson, who declined to give her full name to journalists, mitigating, said that Spivey did not accept his guilt and plans to appeal his conviction.

She added: "It may have been unpleasant but it's not at the most serious end of harassment."

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