Anti-police T-shirt man jailed

A man who wore an anti-police T-shirt in public just hours after the killings of two policewomen has been jailed.

Barry Thew, 39, was spotted in his home town of Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, wearing a T-shirt which carried handwritten comments of "One less pig; perfect justice" and "Killacopforfun.com haha".

Less than three-and-a-half hours earlier, Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, were shot dead in a gun and grenade attack as they responded to a reported burglary on the Hattersley estate in Mottram, Greater Manchester.

Thew, of Wolsey Street, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court to the public order offence committed on September 18.

He was sentenced to four months in jail and received an additional four months after he admitted breaching the terms of a previous suspended jail term.

Following sentencing, Inspector Bryn Williams, of the Radcliffe Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: "While officers on the ground were just learning of and trying to come to terms with the devastating news that two colleagues had been murdered, Thew thought nothing of going out in public with a T-shirt daubed with appalling handwritten comments.

"Thankfully the overwhelming response from the public - who have inundated us with messages of support and condolence - prove that Thew is the exception and not the rule and our communities were right behind us at our darkest hour. To mock or joke about the tragic events of that morning is morally reprehensible and Thew has rightly been convicted and sentenced for his actions."

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "The public shame of such a senseless and callous act is punishment enough. The idea that you should spend several months in prison for writing something on a T-shirt when shoplifters, burglars and a whole host of other offenders serve far less is absurd.

"Using the Public Order Act to police words is a chilling effect on freedom of speech and these powers have also been used to arrest Christian street preachers, critics of Scientology and even students making jokes.

"It's time we reform the law to protect freedom of speech and focus the police on bringing to justice those who seek to incite harm, not those who cause offence."