Man who trolled grieving families online targeted backpacker Hannah Witheridge

A "sick sadist" who trolled grieving families on Facebook targeted a tribute page to Hannah Witheridge – the 23-year-old murdered on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014.

Paul Hind, 38, wrote offensive material on the page dedicated to Hannah, from Norfolk, and David Miller, 24, from Jersey, who were brutally beaten to death.

Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo have since been sentenced to death after being found guilty of murder.

As well as trolling the page set up by loved ones in their memory, Hind, who admitted posting the material, targeted Olivia Burt, a Durham University student who died from head injuries after an incident outside a nightclub in February.

He called her a "sex worker" and "prostitute" on the social media site.

South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday that Hind, of Westacres in Wark, also doctored an image of the dead woman and posted pictures of children who were "clearly terminally ill" on her Facebook page on April 20.

Hind admitted four separate offences of conveying false information which was indecent or grossly offensive, relating to four dead people.

Olivia’s dad, Nigel Burt, from Hampshire, said his actions were a "desecration" of his daughter’s memory.

He said the posts made him and Paula Burt, Olivia’s mother, feel "physically sick".

Nigel added: "The person who carried out this trolling can only be described as a sick sadist who knows that they are adding to our anguish and gets enjoyment out of this.

"Even though the Facebook posts have now gone, we keep expecting them to reappear on some other social media platform.

"This is causing us continuing anxiety and distress."

Mr Burt added: "We would also like to say that our dealings with Facebook have compounded our misery."

He said the social media giants only tackle individual posts and not "overall trolling", describing this method as "hopeless".

The other counts related to the deaths of Joe Tilley, 24, who was found dead at the bottom of a waterfall in Colombia in May, and 19-year-old Duncan Sim, whose remains were found at West Sands in St Andrews earlier this year.

District Judge Kate Meek, sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court for sentence on September 27, and praised the Burt family for sitting in on the proceedings.

Speaking outside court after the hearing, Hind said he was "deeply sorry" for his actions and that he had done them "for attention".

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