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Internet troll jailed for two years

An internet troll whose grossly offensive Facebook postings included threats to kill 200 US children has been jailed for more than two years after a judge heard how he spread terror in local schools.

Reece Elliott, 24, left abusive comments on tribute pages set up for two teenagers who died in car accidents, and when challenged, he sent more nasty messages directly to pupils living in Warren County, Tennessee, in February.

After a deputy sheriff contacted him to say he would shut the page down, curly-haired Elliott sparked a security crackdown at local schools by threatening to shoot 200 children.

With sensitivities heightened in the US following the Newtown shooting which saw 20 children and six adults killed in an elementary school, hundreds saw Elliott's message and almost 3,000 pupils missed classes the next day, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Tennessee police began investigating, along with the FBI and Homeland Security.

Elliott, from South Shields, South Tyneside, contacted his solicitor and walked into his local police station to admit what he had done when he realised the outcry he had caused.

At a previous hearing he admitted one count of making threats to kill and eight Communications Act offences.

Bridie Smurthwaite, prosecuting, said Elliott left "grossly offensive" messages to two tribute sites.

After his arrest, Elliott said he was an internet troll, the purpose of which was to provoke arguments and reaction. Miss Smurthwaite said he told officers "it was a massive mistake".

Elliott has 17 convictions for 28 offences, including at the age of 16 an attempted robbery on a bookmakers when he was armed with an axe, and a racially aggravated public order offence in a pizza shop. John Wilkinson, defending, said Elliott was described by a psychiatrist as emotionally immature and impulsive.

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