Man and woman from North East jailed for Twitter abuse

Isabella Sorley and John Nimmo have been jailed for subjecting a high-profile feminist Caroline Criado-Perez to online abuse

Isabella Sorley and John Nimmo at Westminster Magistrates Court, London
Isabella Sorley and John Nimmo at Westminster Magistrates Court, London

A man and a woman from the North East have been jailed for subjecting a high-profile feminist to online abuse.

Isabella Sorley, 23, from Akenside House, Akenside Hill, Newcastle, used Twitter to tell campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez to “f*** off and die you worthless piece of c***”, “go kill yourself” and “rape is the last of your worries”.

John Nimmo, 25, from Moreland Road, South Shields, told Ms Criado-Perez to “shut up bitch” and “Ya not that gd looking to rape u be fine” followed by “I will find you (smiley face)”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Sentencing Sorley to 12 weeks in prison and Nimmo to eight weeks, Judge Howard Riddle said it was “hard to imagine more extreme threats”.

The pair bombarded Ms Criado-Perez with the abusive messages last year after she led a successful campaign using social media for a female figure to appear on a Bank of England note.

Judge Riddle said the harm threatened against Ms Criado-Perez “must have been intended to be very high”.

Unemployed Nimmo also targeted his abuse at Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, with the message “The things I cud do to u (smiley face)”, calling her “Dumb blond bitch”.

The judge said the effect of the abuse on Ms Criado-Perez had been “life- changing”. She describes “panic and fear and horror,” he said.

He added that it had also had a “substantial” impact on Ms Creasy, who has had a panic button installed in her home.

The judge said of the abusive tweets: “The fact that they were anonymous heightened the fear.

“The victims had no way of knowing how dangerous the people making the threats were, whether they had just come out of prison, or how to recognise and avoid them if they came across them in public.”

The court heard that university-educated Sorley has 25 previous convictions, the majority for being drunk and disorderly.

While on bail for this case, she also committed two offences of assaulting a police officer and is awaiting sentence for an assault on New Year’s Day, the court heard.

During mitigation, Sean Caulfield, defending Sorley, said she herself was a “victim” of new technology as she did not understand the impact of what she was doing. “She understands what it must have been like now. At the time, it seems, she did not,” Mr Caulfield said.

Paul Kennedy, representing Nimmo, described him as a “somewhat sad individual” who is “effectively a social recluse”.

Mr Kennedy said that, when Nimmo’s original tweet was responded to and retweeted, it encouraged him to send more messages as he saw it as an “indication of popularity”.

Judge Riddle said Nimmo “used a degree of sophistication including using different accounts” to carry out the abuse and added: “You appear to blame the victim to some degree.”

He described Sorley as an “intelligent and well-educated woman” with a 2:1 degree in creative advertising, but said her apology appeared “hollow”.

The judge ordered them each to pay £800 compensation.

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