Man sent ‘grossly’ offensive tweets about missing boy

DEIH20140224A-001_C.jpg Picture: Ian Hodgkinson'Darren Shepstone leaving Derby Magistrates Court
DEIH20140224A-001_C.jpg Picture: Ian Hodgkinson'Darren Shepstone leaving Derby Magistrates Court

A Langley Mill man could face a custodial sentence after launching a late night series of offensive tweets in relation to missing toddler Mikaeel Kular.

Darren Shpestone pleaded guilty to a charge of sending tweets that were grossly offensive or of an obscene character at Derby and South Derbyshire Magistrates Court this morning.

The 26-year-old of Cromford Road, made what the magistrates bench deemed as ‘racially aggravated’ posts on his phone between January 15 and 19 after news broke that three-year-old Mikaeel Kular had disappeared from his home in the Drylaw area of Edinburgh.

The boy’s body was discovered in Fife on Friday January 19 and his mother Rosdeep Kular, 33, faces a murder charge in relation to his death.

Presiding magistrate David Turton told Shepstone: “This is a case that could have caused many people distress through reading it.

“The number of people who read (the tweets) we just don’t know. The distress could be wider than we are aware.”

The outrageous messages posted on the social networking site used by 500 million worldwide were too offensive to repeat in the News.

One user called Shepstone’s comments ‘sick’ in response.

Two Twitter users, who had seen the post in Scotland, called police and officers managed to trace Shepstone to his address thanks to details he had supplied the site when he registered as a user.

He was arrested on January 19 an his phone was seized.

Outlining the case against Shepstone, prosecutor Alison Wright told the court: “He said that he didn’t really remember sending them, that he had probably been drinking at the time and did so in his own words ‘as a cheap laugh’.”

Ms Wright continued to say that Shepstone appeared remorseful when interviewed by police.

“He realised that he could not blame his actions on alcohol and that he was disgusted with himself for what he has done.” She said.

“He said he is not a racist per se.

“He said it was not funny that this boy had gone missing. He said he didn’t know why he had.”

Defending for Shepstone, Kate Fairburn said the actions were out of character for her client, but accepted that the charges were too severe to warrant a community order as punishment.

Referring to the time he first chose to post the offensive tweets, she said: “On that night he had been drinking in a public house with his friends.

“He had just been through a break up of a relationship, which he had taken particularly hard.

“He appreciated what he did was not acceptable. He has already been suspended from work because of this.”

Shepstone was given unconditional bail and will now be sentenced on Tuesday, March 18 at the same court. The case was adjourned until that time so probation reports could be obtained.