An internet troll who was jailed for making sick threats to kill 200 American students ended up back behind bars – after sparking a fresh security scare at a South Tyneside betting shop.
Reece Elliott was locked up for 28 months after making the chilling threat in February 2013, in a message he posted on an online tribute site for a 17-year-old girl from Tennessee who was killed in a car accident.
He was warned the call was being recorded, but he said he didn’t care.Christopher Kay, prosecuting
With sensitivities heightened in the US following the Newtown shooting – which saw 20 children and six adults shot in an elementary school – 3,000 pupils in the Warren County area missed school the next day, while security measures were stepped up, with armed guards on duty and access to schools restricted.
Elliott, of Fossway, South Shields, admitted one count of making a threat to kill and eight of sending grossly offensive messages and was jailed in July 2013.
The 26-year-old was released on license in April last year – only to be recalled to prison on March 6 after threatening to “smash up” a roulette machine belonging to a bookmaker’s after his gambling account was frozen.
He was released from custody on March 31 and spared a return to jail despite admitting sending a threatening message by email when he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard Elliott had contacted betting firm Coral by phone at noon on February 26 and by email at 2pm the same day when his account was halted due to a suspicion that stolen cash vouchers were being used on the account.
Christopher Kay, prosecuting, said: “The defendant said he would put a brick through one of the roulette machines and said “it would cause more damage than the £100 you owe me”.
“He was warned the call was being recorded, but he said he didn’t care. He was told he would be sent an email about his account being frozen but repeated the threat, saying ‘I will smash up one of your roulette machines’.
“The call was terminated due to the nature of the threats, the security team were alerted, as were the local Coral shop in Fowler Street, South Shields.”
He said: “It was believed he had every intention to carry out the threats.”
Elliott repeated the threat in an email to the firm at 2.07pm and then entered the Fowler Street shop at 2.20pm.
Mr Kay added: “He was asked to leave and left without incident.
“At 4.45pm, another email was sent by the defendant, apologising, in which he said he had no intention to carry out the threats.”
Elliott was later arrested by police and told officers in a prepared statement: “I foolishly lost my cool in the heat of the moment and made some threats. I never intended to carry out. As soon as I calmed down, I apologised.
“I need to think before I open my mouth. I am sorry for all the trouble caused.”
Laura Johnson, defending, said: “He made that call to establish what was going on and accepts he lost his cool and made the threats describe to you.
“He says it was an idle threat. He attended the shop to see if he could still continue to use the bookmakers, was told to leave, and duly did so.
“At the time he was subject to licence conditions. He breached those by using the internet and was recalled to prison for 28 days.
“He apologises profusely for his actions.
“He is trying to make his way in life and doesn’t want to be in and out of prison.”
Malcolm Grady, chairman of the magistrates, said: “We do not feel the offence warrants custody. There should be a combination of rehabilitation and punishment.”
Elliott was given a 12-month community order and must complete 40 hours of unpaid work.