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article imageU.K. gangster used Facebook to threaten enemies while in prison

By Chris Dade     Jan 31, 2010 in Crime
A gangster considered to be one of the U.K.'s most dangerous men has been organizing criminal activities and threatening his enemies from the prison where he is serving a 35-year sentence, using an account on Facebook.
The authorities in the U.K. have now closed down the Facebook account of 42-year-old Colin Gunn, who, according to the London Times, had been using the social networking site for the last two months to post messages for his 565 "friends" to see.
While the current reports do not appear to indicate where it is Gunn, master of what is being described as a "criminal empire" in the city of Nottingham in Central England before being jailed for conspiracy to murder and corrupting police officers, is serving his sentence a website set up by/for Gunn gives an address of HMP Whitemoor, Near March in Cambridgeshire. The last update to the site was September 11 2009.
The Independent reports that while Gunn was thought to have some involvement in the robbery which led to the murder of 64-year-old Marian Bates at her family's jewelery shop in Nottingham in 2003 - Mrs Bates died attempting to protect her daughter - it was the murder in Lincolnshire in 2004 of John and Joan Stirland, aged 55 and 51, that brought about his sentence for conspiracy to murder.
Gunn ordered the murder of the Stricklands after his nephew Jamie died from pneumonia at the age of 19. The young man's death came about due to the alcohol and drugs to which he had turned following an incident in 2003 in which he was shot and another man murdered by Michael O'Brien, the son of Joan Stirland.
Among the messages Gunn had posted on his Facebook page before it was closed down on Friday were two that read:I will be home one day and I can’t wait to look into certain people’s eyes and see the fear of me being there.
It’s good to have an outlet to let you know how I am, some of you will be in for a good slagging, some have let me down badly, and will be named and shamed, f****** rats
The London Times quotes critics as saying that Gunn was allowed to maintain a Facebook account because authorities feared he may take action against them using human rights legislation. Indeed Gunn reportedly claims he was allowed to use Facebook because it was considered to be his legal right.
However the Telegraph states that a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice has insisted access to Facebook by prisoners is forbidden, with only staff-supervised access to the web for educational purposes permitted. The spokesman also explained:We are extremely concerned that prisoners are able to update Facebook and other social networking sites either through illicit technology or via outside contacts. 'The Public Order Act 1986 created offences dealing with causing harassment, alarm or distress. We will not hesitate to refer to the police any published material that appears to breach this. We recognise that it is deeply distressing for victims and their families and friends and we have made it clear to Facebook that we do not think it acceptable or appropriate for these sites to remain active, something Facebook agrees with
Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw has stated too that the authorities are working with Facebook to remove the profiles of known criminals.
Those who have lost loved ones to violent crimes have, says the Telegraph, been pressing for electronic anti-social behaviour orders.
Recently Jade Braithwaite taunted on Facebook the family of Ben Kinsella, the 16-year-old boy he had knifed to death.
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