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UK man jailed over US Facebook massacre threat

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Police officers patrol in Liverpool, northwest England, on April 10, 2009. An British online "troll" who sparked a security alert in the United States by threatening on Facebook to kill 200 schoolchildren was jailed on Tuesday for two years and four months.AFP/File

An British online "troll" who sparked a security alert in the United States by threatening on Facebook to kill 200 schoolchildren was jailed on Tuesday for two years and four months.

Reece Elliott, 24, used a false name to post offensive messages in February, including the massacre threat, on memorial pages for two teenagers who had been killed in road accidents in the state of Tennessee.

The father of one wrote on a page dedicated to Caitlin Talley, 17, who died in October: "My father has three guns. I'm planning on killing him first and putting him in a dumpster.

"Then I'm taking the motor and I'm going in fast. I'm gonna kill hopefully at least 200 before I kill myself. So you want to tell the deputy, I'm on my way."

He added: "I'm killing 200 people minimum at school. I will be on CNN."

Elliott, from South Shields in northeast England, also posted obscene messages about the two teenagers who had died, which were likely seen by hundreds of people, the court heard.

When challenged by other Facebook users, he sent private messages including one to a 15-year-old girl which read: "You have been chosen tomorrow at school to receive one of my bullets."

The threat came less than two months after the killings of 20 children and six staff at the Newtown elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, by a lone gunman who afterwards committed suicide.

Almost 3,000 children missed school the day after Elliott's postings as schools in Tennessee's Warren county went into lockdown because of his threat.

Elliott -- who already has 17 convictions for 28 offences, including an attempted robbery with an axe -- had pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to making a threat to kill and to eight counts of sending grossly offensive messages.

Judge James Goss told him on Tuesday that the offences were driven by "no more than self-indulgent nastiness".

But he said he had taken into account Elliot's remorse in determining the length of his sentence.

Elliott handed himself in to police as inquiries by the FBI and US Homeland Security were pointing in his direction. He has since been in custody.

He described himself as an Internet troll who sought to provoke reactions, but told police his threat had been a "massive mistake".