Friday, August 31, 2012

British Facebook troll 'is a policeman'

Officer Lee Rimell

A policeman has been arrested over vile abuse posted online to a mother who won a landmark case to have his identity released by Facebook.

Nicola Brookes, 45, was hounded by anonymous online bullies after she used the social networking site to write a message of support for an X Factor contestant. But while she was tormented with abusive messages, threatening her with death and accusing her of being a paedophile, she claims police officers initially told her to go home.

After taking her case to the High Court, however, Facebook was for the first time forced to disclose the identities of the bullies.

Now police have arrested Lee Rimell, 32, on suspicion of being one of the trolls allegedly behind months of ‘vicious and depraved’ abuse. Rimell is believed to have been based at Stechford Police Station in Birmingham. He has not been suspended.

Last night, Miss Brookes, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, described the arrest as a ‘significant breakthrough’ but said she was horrified one of the suspected trolls is a policeman.

She added: ‘It’s disgusting. Nothing surprises me anymore. ‘I feel absolutely let down by the system. I’ve had to wait nine months for this arrest.

‘I’m so happy that the authorities are finally doing something about this. My life has been ruined for so long,’ the single mother added.

Her ordeal began last November when her daughter Harley told her people were writing nasty comments about X Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza on his Facebook page. Wanting to defend the young singer, she posted: ‘Keep your friends and your family close, Frankie. They’ll move on to someone else soon.’

Online trolls turned on her in minutes, writing that she was a ‘desperate pedo [sic] b****’ and ‘a ****ing dog’. Within 24 hours she had been hounded with more than 100 messages of abuse.

One of the online bullies set up a Facebook profile in Miss Brookes’s name, using it to send explicit messages to children. It had a picture of her and her email address, with messages falsely describing her as a drug dealer, a prostitute and a child abuser.

On one occasion, a picture of her was placed on an image of Myra Hindley. She also had her email address hacked and, on Mother’s Day this year, trolls published her Brighton home address.

But they didn’t stop there. They also found her daughter Harley’s profile and doctored a picture of her, placing her head on the body of a lap-dancer.

After Miss Brookes began legal action, the High Court granted an order in June compelling Facebook to disclose the bullies’ names, email addresses and their computers’ internet protocol (IP) addresses – used to determine a computer’s location.

Rimell was arrested last week after checks on Miss Brookes’s computer.

He allegedly began the trolling by using a fake account under the name Cuthbert Bollingsworth Smyth.

He is also accused of hacking into Miss Brookes’s email account. Days after her High Court victory, Miss Brookes found someone had logged on to her emails and read crucial case evidence.

When officers from Sussex Police examined her computer they found the hacker had left a trace behind. Rimell has since been bailed while officers continue their investigations.

A police spokesman said: ‘West Midlands Police is assisting Sussex Police in connection with an ongoing inquiry regarding a serving West Midlands police officer.’

Original report here

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