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Student in court after 'help for Heroes should be beheaded' tweet

Harrow Observer
Thursday, June 13, 2013

A STUDENT who tweeted that ‘anyone wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt should be beheaded’ just hours after soldier Lee Rigby was killed, was sentenced to 250 hours of unpaid work.

Deyka Ayan Hassan, from Harrow, posted the message on Twitter at about 4pm on Wednesday, May 22, shortly after the soldier was killed in Woolwich, south east London, Hendon Magistrates’ Court heard.

She was immediately inundated with tweets that included threats to rape and kill her, which are being investigated by police.

The 21-year-old went to police to report the threats made against her, however, she was arrested and charged with making a malicious communication after telling police she had told her Twitter followers, ‘To be honest if you wear a Help for Heroes T-shirt you deserve to be beheaded’.

Hassan admitted the charge and said she had posted the message as a ‘joke’ in relation to anyone who wore the T-shirt, as she did not like its design.

Itpal Dhillon, defending, told the court on Friday last week that when Hassan posted the tweet she had not been aware that Drummer Rigby was a soldier.

Ms Dhillon said: “At the time she didn’t know the full details relating to the horrific incident.

“She certainly didn’t know that the man who was killed was a soldier.

“She fully accepts that the comment was distasteful and disgusting.”

Sentencing her to 250 hours of unpaid work, chair magistrate Nigel Orton said: “The tragic events of Woolwich that day have created a context that made this tweet appear extreme. It had a huge impact and clearly caused offence and distress.

“We accept that you did not intend to cause harm and you felt it was a joke. Your act was naive and foolish and without regard to the sensitivity of the general public and a time of heightened sensitivity.”

The English literature and politics student at Kingston University admitted one count of sending a message that was grossly offensive, or of an offensive or obscene character.

After realising the impact of her tweet, Hassan said she was ‘disgusted’ with herself and was particularly upset at having let down her family, including her father who flew back from Somalia after her arrest, the court heard.

The court was told that in Somalia her father is involved with a number of charitable organisations including Prevent which combats extremism in young people.

A Kingston University spokesman said: “Kingston University expects its students to display high standards of behaviour, respecting others at all times, and not bring the university into disrepute.

“It also expects students to take responsibility for their actions and to learn from their mistakes.

“The university has been made aware of Ms Hassan’s conviction and an investigation will be conducted in accordance with the university’s disciplinary procedures.”

Hassan was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and £100 towards prosecution costs.


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