Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Monday, 10 May 2010 16:38 UK

Doncaster man guilty of Twitter airport threat

A man who posted a message on Twitter threatening to blow an airport "sky high" has been found guilty of sending a menacing electronic communication.

Paul Chambers, 26, claimed he sent the Tweet in a moment of frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow in January.

A district judge ruled the Tweet was "of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live".

Chambers, of Balby, Doncaster, was fined £385 and told to pay £600 costs.

It did not cross my mind that Robin Hood would ever look at Twitter or take it seriously because it was innocuous hyperbole
Paul Chambers

The Tweet he sent to his 600 "followers" in the early hours of 6 January said: "Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"

Airport staff were alerted to the message when off-duty manager Shaun Duffield searched for "Robin Hood Airport" using the Twitter search facility a few days after it was posted, the judge heard.

He alerted airport security who graded the threat level of the message as "non-credible" but had to pass it on to police Special Branch.

The court heard the Tweet had no operational effect on the airport.

Trainee accountant Chambers was arrested at his workplace at a car distribution firm in Sandtoft, near Doncaster, where he was a finance supervisor.

The court heard he had now lost his job because of the prosecution.

'Disappointed and frustrated'

Chambers said he had no idea anyone at Robin Hood Airport would see the Tweet and explained how it never crossed his mind anyone might take it seriously.

He told the court: "I was disappointed and frustrated that the airport had been closed.

"I just sent out a message to Twitter.

"My followers had been following how I was going to fly out to Northern Ireland and knew how much I was looking forward to it."

Chambers was asked if he understood the airport had to take threats seriously, whatever the context.

He replied: "I do now. I apologise for whatever consequences have happened but at the time that was not my intention at all.

"It did not cross my mind that Robin Hood would ever look at Twitter or take it seriously because it was innocuous hyperbole."

District judge Jonathan Bennett said: "I am satisfied the defendant was, at the very least, aware that this was of a menacing nature and I find him guilty of the offence."

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