Racist troll gets two-year jail term for harassing MP Luciana Berger


A "vile racist" troll who harassed Labour MP Luciana Berger in a string of anti-Jewish rants has been jailed for the maximum of two years.

Joshua Bonehill-Paine, 24, sent five hate-filled blogs about the MP for Liverpool Wavertree in support of jailed far-right extremist Garron Helm.

The jury at the Old Bailey found Bonehill-Paine guilty of racially aggravated harassment on Wednesday.

The court heard he has a history of online abuse leaving a trail of devastation in the lives of those he chose to "pick a dispute" with.

While he was posting abusive blogs on Ms Berger, Bonehill-Paine, of Yeovil, Somerset, was on bail awaiting sentence for making false claims on Twitter that several people were paedophiles.

And while on police bail over the blogs, he stirred up racial hatred in a flyer for a neo-Nazi rally in Golders Green, north London.

He was jailed for three years and four months last December for the ad illustrated with a picture of Nazi death camp Auschwitz which promised "an absolute gas".

Sentencing, Mr Justice Spencer told the defendant he had "amassed a formidable record of hate crime" at the age of just 24.

He told Bonehill-Paine he was responsible for a "cruel campaign of vile racist abuse" on his "obnoxious" online newspaper.

The judge described Ms Berger's evidence in court as "restrained" and "dignified".

She told jurors that online abuse does not always stay online - a truth illustrated by the tragic death of her fellow MP Jo Cox, the judge said.

He told Bonehill-Paine: "This was gravely oppressive racially aggravated harassment of the worst kind."

Mr Justice Spencer took into account he was due for release on April 28 2017 but said a consecutive sentence was "fully justified".

He also imposed a criminal behaviour order which carries a penalty of up to five years in jail to curb his internet activities.

Under the order, to be enforced by police upon his release, Bonehill-Paine is barred from contacting directly or indirectly Ms Berger, her former assistant and other named individuals.

The judge said: "It is abundantly clear from all the evidence in the case and the material I have been provided with that he is tenacious in his use of the internet as a retaliatory weapon against anyone with whom he wishes to pick a dispute."

The order gives officers the power to monitor his online activities for the next five years.

Bonehill-Paine launched his attack on Ms Berger in retaliation for a four-week jail sentence for Helm, then 21, from Merseyside, in October 2014.

Helm had admitted sending a picture on Twitter depicting her with a holocaust-era Star of David on her forehead and the hashtag "Hitler was right".

Between October 2014 and January 2015, Bonehill-Paine posted articles online calling her a "dominatrix" and "an evil money-grabber" with a "deep-rooted hatred of men".

He illustrated his posts with offensive pictures, including the anti-Jewish cliche of a rat with Ms Berger's face superimposed on it.

Bonehill-Paine hailed the "Filthy Jew Bitch Campaign" led by US white supremacist site Daily Stormer as "fantastically successful" after the MP was sent 2,500 tweets.

His criminal past dating back to the age of 15 also included convictions for punching and throwing keys at carers, stabbing holes in a wall with a knife, fraud, being racially abusive, and assaulting an officer while stealing a police uniform.

In 2013, he wrote on his website that the owners of a Leicestershire pub had "out of respect for the Islamic community" banned members of the armed forces.

It resulted in threats of arson and criminal damage and led to the pub's closure to protect staff.

Prosecutor Philip Stott summarised a victim impact statement from Ms Berger in which she described the effect on her work and personal life as well as on her worried partner, staff and colleagues.

He said: "She states that before this happened she was an active, busy person who went about her daily life without concern.

"She deals with it very much in the context of receiving thousands of anti-Semitic and Nazi tweets and messages since the imprisonment of Garron Helm in October 2014."

She described it as "very difficult emotionally" to view the messages depicting her as "devils, rats, witches and aliens" as well as clothed as a "Jewish concentration camp prisoner".

As well as being called "many disgusting names", she had also received death threats during the course of the hate campaign led by the Daily Stormer.

Mr Stott said she did not feel safe to travel and her partner had been left feeling "worried and helpless" in the face of the barrage of abuse.

Ms Berger described herself as a "proud Brit" who was particularly upset at being labelled "anti-British" by the Filthy Jew Bitch campaign.

She told how she had to cancel events because of the "fear factor of being out by herself" while just going through all the messages was "time-consuming".

Mr Stott said she had reduced her presence on social media, even though it is an important aspect of her work as an MP.

He told the court: "Now when she posts things, she is worried she will receive anti-Semitic abuse as a result."

Bonehill-Paine's sentence comes just two weeks after neo-Nazi Thomas Mair was handed a whole life sentence for murdering Labour MP Jo Cox.

Mair used library computers to trawl the internet for far-right literature shortly before he launched his gun and knife attack on the 41-year-old mother of two.