A DONCASTER man found guilty of sending a “menacing tweet” was the victim of a legal “steamroller” that threatened to make the law look silly, the High Court was told.
Paul Chambers, aged 27, then living in Balby, said he thought no-one would take seriously his joking threat to blow up Robin Hood Airport.
He said he sent the tweet in a moment of frustration after the airport was closed by snow in January 2010.
Magistrates fined him £385 and ordered him to pay £600 costs for sending “a message of a menacing character”, breaking the 2003 Communications Act.
He is asking the High Court to overturn a Doncaster Crown Court decision to uphold his conviction and sentence, which pushed the costs he must pay up to £2,600.
The message he tweeted read: “Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s**t together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”
Ben Emmerson QC, for Chambers, said the crown court had erred in law and common sense, suggesting it was unlikely anyone planning to blow up an airport would post their plan on Twitter.
He told Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Irwin conviction and sentence were normally meant to have a deterrent effect, but in the Chambers’ case they had the opposite effect as 4,000 people re-tweeted the message.
“One has to inject common sense to avoid the law ending up looking silly.”
Robert Smith QC, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the tweet was not viewed as a joke by those responsible for airport security, and it was posted at a time when the potential terrorist threat to airport security was high.
The Crown Court decision to uphold Chambers’ conviction was justified by the facts of the case, said Mr Smith.
The judges reserved their judgment to a future date.