Call to free April ‘troll’

Jailed: Matthew Woods, 19, of Eaves Lane, Chorley
Jailed: Matthew Woods, 19, of Eaves Lane, Chorley
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A campaign has been launched to release a Facebook troll from Chorley convicted of making obscene remarks about missing April Jones.

Matthew Woods, 20, of Eaves Lane, was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison on Monday for comments about the missing five-year-old, which magistrates described as “completely abhorrent”.

Two Facebook pages, entitled ‘Free Matthew Woods’ have now been created, one with the aim of changing the law so it will become harder to imprison people for the offence.

Around 50 members of the public cheered as the sentence was read out at Chorley Magistrates’ Court, but not everyone agrees with the sentence.

The ‘Free Matthew Woods’ campaign argues that people making jokes on social media sites should not be imprisoned.

It says: “The purpose of this page is not to mock April Jones, or to excuse what Matthew has done.

“It is about the dangerous precedent that imprisoning someone for something as benign as a joke on the internet sets.

“Matthew Woods might not be the most likeable person but we cannot let things continue in this direction. This country is supposed to be an advocate of free speech.

“No one should be scared of posting a joke on the internet for fear of imprisonment.

“The joke might have been offensive but putting someone in jail for expressing an opinion – no matter how offensive – is a violation of our fundamental human rights.”

Woods, who is unemployed, admitted posting the four remarks, which also included references to Madeleine McCann, on Wednesday last week.

Another page set up says “Matthew Jones has been jailed in the UK for making a joke on Facebook. You’re next.”

Its poll asks if spending time and money ‘putting people in prison for online comments’ is better than looking for the youngster.