Homophobic comments left on the Chronicle & Echo's Facebook page have landed a Northampton man in court after a reader complained to police.
Steven Joyce was given a fine, unpaid work and a community order after admitting to posting the offensive remarks at Northampton Magistrates' Court yesterday (Thursday, August 22).
The 30-year-old, who currently lives on the floor of his mother's home in Stockmead Road, made offensive remarks under a story about an attack on a homosexual man in Northampton.
The court heard that Joyce, still believes in his offensive views but knows he cannot publish them on social media and would not do it again but a combination of losing his job and girlfriend caused him to lash out.
Magistrate chair Boynton said when sentencing Joyce: "I think you have realised you can't go and do these things on a public site which could cause offence and also upset people."
The court heard how the complainant saw Joyce's offensive remarks while scrolling through the generally supportive comments on Facebook under the Chron's story from January 1.
The witness was left disgusted by the comments and the positive reaction they were receiving, leaving him feeling uneasy about going out in Northampton at night, the prosecution solicitor said.
With Joyce in tears in the dock, his probation officer told magistrates he was sorry for his behaviour which came about from a great deal of stress.
In mitigation, his lawyer said: "We are in a free society and he is entitled to his views, but he knows you can't broadcast them on a general basis, you have to keep them to yourself.
"Once you press the button, it's out there and you can't bring it back. Had he thought about it, he wouldn't have press the button."
Joyce was given an 18-month community order, 40 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £40 in costs and a victim surcharge of £85.
Magistrate Boynton added: "Please co-operate as it's a punishment but also an education as well."