UK woman jailed for trolling herself, trying to pin it on family

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Law & order

UK woman jailed for trolling herself, trying to pin it on family, image courtesy of SWNSA 24-year-old British woman has been jailed for trolling herself and trying to frame her family for it.

Michelle Chapman, from Cornwall, is thought to be the first person in the UK to have been prosecuted for such a crime, according to The Independent.

She's been sentenced to 20 months in prison for setting up fake Facebook accounts in family members' names and sending herself hundreds of abusive messages.

According to news reports, Chapman hadn't seen her father for 21 years. They reunited when her father reached out to her after having remarried in 2010.

But when Chapman visited him, the two argued.

Prosecutor Philip Lee told the court that Chapman, upset, was after "revenge on her father for matters in the past" and that she wanted to make her father and her stepmother's lives "hell".

So she set up fake Facebook profiles, complete with pictures, for her victims, including her father and his wife. After trolling herself from the accounts, she made complaints to the police.

This Is Cornwall reports that Philip Lee, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said that Chapman made eight written statements to the police between February and October 2011, complaining about the messages she was receiving, many of which were of a "very unpleasant sexual nature".

The court heard that Chapman had been warned about a similar offence in 2009.

Chapman's earlier scrape with the law mustn't have emerged during her year-long campaign of trolling and framing, however, given that two family members - Angela Steen and Elaine Abrams - were subsequently given official police warnings.

Her then-stepmother, Louise Steen, was also arrested and interviewed.

The truth only surfaced after forensics showed that the Facebook profiles had been created at Chapman's address.

The self-trolling went on for a little over a year, starting in February 2011 and stretching through to March 2012.

Chapman initially denied the charges, but Lee told the court that she eventually confessed in the face of "incontrovertible" evidence.

Her defence claimed that Chapman suffered from mental health issues.

Chapman's husband, Glyn Chapman, 57, confirmed this:

She is the victim, she has mental health issues and it was a cry for help. This is what you do when you're in desperate, desperate need of help - you scream out.

Cyber-bullying is a serious crime and it's heinous to accuse innocent people of being cyber-bullies.

If Chapman is truly suffering from mental health issues, let's hope she gets the help she needs.


Image of Michelle Chapman courtesy of SWNS.

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17 Responses to UK woman jailed for trolling herself, trying to pin it on family

  1. Reader · 171 days ago

    "The truth only surfaced after forensics showed that the Facebook profiles had been created at Chapman's address."

    Bingo. So, it is possible to trace (some) cybercrimes to their source.

    This woman has no good excuse for her behavior. She should admit to her crimes and accept her punishment.

  2. greg · 171 days ago

    "she is the victim"... lol right. She may have mental health issues (which exercise and diet are unbelievably effective in treating), but I can't think of any disorders that would cause someone to do this and persist at it for over a year.

    • spookiewon · 170 days ago

      Exercise and diet would not really help this. Her weight is likely caused BY, not the cause OF, her emotional difficulties.

  3. Kathy · 171 days ago

    Greg, no one in their right mind would do this. It stands to reason therefore that she is not. There are mental health disorders that would cause a person to do this. That you cannot think of any is meaningless unless you are a mental health professional (so let's hope not).

    If the police were capable of ascertaining the source of the abuse, they should have done so earlier. It would have saved several people, including the woman herself, a lot of unpleasantness.

  4. Bones · 171 days ago

    Perhaps a little compassion is in order here? She is clearly a very unhappy individual who lost contact with her father at age three which can't have been easy. These are the actions of a very sad and disturbed person and I can only hope she eventually gets help. Sadly this probably won't happen in jail...

    • spookiewon · 170 days ago

      Compassion doesn't really mitigate the fact that she made a concerted effort to put someone else in the position she's now in. If she needs mental health help we should make sure she gets it, but what if her father and his wife had been jailed? Who would be the victim then? My guess is you'd still be talking about how we should have compassion for her. How about a little compassion for HER victims?

  5. Reader G · 171 days ago

    You would have thought that the first thing they would check would be where the accounts were created? How can you give people official police warnings without any proof?

    • It really shows the lack of knowledge of the officials in charge of investigating this. They had to have ASSUMED because the Facebook account has their face on it and says it's them, that it is them. To go forward with taking action just based on that is a horrible failure of their police and judicial system.

  6. Anonymous · 170 days ago

    There are no winners in this situation I feel sorry for all involved

  7. Rick · 170 days ago

    A 20-month commitment to an institution where she could get help for her deeply-ingrained issues would have been a much more appropriate response from the 'justice' system.

    But if common sense were all that common, wouldn't there be more of it around ? (Mark Twain)

  8. Anonymous · 170 days ago

    there might be reasons why she did this, but there aren't any excuses. she attacked her family because she made the choice to do so. It wasn't a cry for help. Crying for help is a cry for help. Lashing out in anger is just an unhappy person spreading misery around.

  9. Andrew · 170 days ago

    If you commit a crime, don't ever think you can't be caught you can and you will. so best stay straight and on the path. this woman will serve her time but would she have learned an important lesson from this remains to be seen, hope while she is serving her time she is given the assistance to recover from the mental illness that she is suffering. The rest is up to her whether she stays on the straight and narrow.

    • spookiewon · 170 days ago

      Oh, I don't know about "will" be caught. This crime, in particular, wouldn't have been too difficult to do such that it would be unlikely to be traced back to her, with a little understanding of how proxies work. She wasn't skilled.

  10. chris · 170 days ago

    there might be reasons why she did this, but there aren't any excuses. she attacked her family because she made the choice to do so. It wasn't a cry for help. Crying for help is a cry for help. Lashing out in anger is just an unhappy person spreading misery around.

  11. Mark · 170 days ago

    So the solution to a woman being so unhappy with her life, that she bullies herself in an attempt to frame her family, is to lock her up for 20 months?
    If an ordinary person with a decent life did this, then yeah, they are just pieces of shit trying to abuse the system to get their way. In this case she clearly needs help and could possibly be a good person after such help.

  12. Julie · 170 days ago

    I would actually say what an evil person to put her entire family through this. I haven't seen my dad for years you just get on with it. Perhaps if she got a job instead of sitting on her bottom creating fake Facebook accounts she would a) be happier and b) be skinnier. Grow a pair you lot she has runnier peoples lives to play a game......

    • Daniel Hiller · 169 days ago

      Shame on you and @greg for commenting on her weight/diet/excercise. You are perpetuating the bullying of overweight people because they are an easy target. If you have any thoughts about the appearance of that person that are relevant to the case in point then perhaps a suitable comment could be made, but as it is you should keep such thoughts to yourself rather than spreading hurtful anti-obesity messages.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.