Page last updated at 15:16 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 16:16 UK

Blogger fined for 'menacing' rant

Gavin Brent
The court heard Brent is charged with 19 theft offences

A blogger who "let off steam" about the way he was treated by police has been convicted of posting a grossly offensive and menacing message.

Gavin Brent, 24, from Holywell, Flintshire, was fined 150 with 364 costs by magistrates at Mold.

The court heard Brent had been charged with theft offences - which have yet to be dealt with - and posted a message about a police officer's new-born baby.

Magistrates said any reasonable person would find the comments menacing.

In February, Brent was charged with 19 offences of theft and two charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act involving internet purchases.

The court heard how detective constable Steve Lloyd conducted interviews, but was not present when Brent was charged because his wife was having a baby.

'Freedom of speech'

Prosecutor Liz Bell said someone unfortunately told Brent why the officer was absent.

Brent then ranted about his perceived mis-treatment at the hands of police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

His posting ended: "P.S. - D.C. Lloyd, God help your new-born baby".

The officer and his wife saw the message and Brent, who is unemployed, was arrested at his home. He then claimed: "You can write on websites because it's freedom of speech."

In interview, he said he felt he had been mistreated and hoped the officer would not treat his child the same way.

Brent was prosecuted under the Telecommunications Act, relating to the sending of an electronic message.

He claimed he had not meant to be offensive, had used the blog "to let off steam", but had not intended any harm.

He apologised if it was perceived as a threat, offered to remove the offending words, and to write a letter of apology.

Asked if he realised how the officer and his wife would have felt when they read his comments, he said: "I can now. I am sorry. But their interpretation is different to what I intended."

Flintshire magistrates, sitting at Mold, said the blog was articulate, detailed, specific and critical of the police and the CPS.

They said any reasonable person would find the words about the baby to be menacing in the context of the overall blog.

The blog entry has been removed.

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