A man jailed for posting sick messages on his Facebook page about missing schoolgirl April Jones has had his sentence cut.
Matthew Woods, 20, made a number of derogatory comments about the five-year-old and also Madeleine McCann who disappeared in Portugal in 2007.
The comments led to a mob of around 50 people descending on his home in Chorley, and magistrates sending him to youth custody as they imposed a maximum term last month.
But he has now successfully appealed against his sentence at Preston Crown Court, having claimed the 12-week term was excessive and that magistrates should have given him credit for his guilty plea.
The term was reduced to eight weeks, which means he will be released any day now.
Woods, who had been living at Eaves Lane, Chorley, had pleaded guilty to an offence of sending by means of a public electronic communications netwrork a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.
He has served 23 days to date. After he was arrested he told officers he had been drinking at the time he posted the messages, having got the idea from a website publishing poor taste jokes.
Woods had 21 previous offences on his record, including violence, damage, dishonesty and two public order offences.
Judge Anthony Russell QC said Woods’ previous convictions indicated he had little concern for the feelings of others.
His barrister Joanne Shepherd told the court he was deeply ashamed of his behaviour and the custodial sentence had been a short, sharp shock. Having lost his job, he was drinking heavily at the time and came across a joke from a website that had been put on his Facebook page.
Woods then made a vain attempt to try and persuade others that his Facebook page had been hacked. Miss Shepherd said: “He has never received a custodial sentence in the past. This had led him to reconsider the way his life was going at the time.
“He understands the outrage. He understands he will have to relocate.”
Judge Anthony Russell QC, the Recorder of Preston, sitting with two magistrates, said the remarks posted by Woods had been “disgusting, offensive and very shocking”.
He said: “In our view, it is in the top sentencing category for such an offence. This was a bad case and after a trial the sentence would have been at the top of the range of twelve weeks. We reduce it to give him credit for his guilty plea.
“We hope the short, sharp shock has indeed had its effect on him because, given his record, if he goes on offeding in the way he has, he only has longer sentences to face.”