A Merseyside man has been sentenced to three years in jail by a beak in Liverpool Crown Court after torching a Vodafone-owned phone mast.
Michael Whitty, a 47-year-old from Knowsley, set fire to the base station of the mast on April 5 of this year, after becoming convinced that 5G was directly linked to the COVID-19 epidemic, the court heard.
Firefighters attending the scene discovered firelighters and a pair of partially burned gloves, which were later discovered to contain Whitty's DNA.
Police arrested Whitty, who according to a local paper is a father of three, at his home on April 17 and charged him with arson.
Subsequent analysis of his phone indicated Whitty was embroiled in a conspiratorial online world, spending "a considerable amount of time" discussing anti-5G conspiracies with like-minded individuals, the court heard.
Opponents of 5G falsely claim that the technology is tantamount to a bioweapon, with some arguing that the symptoms of COVID-19 are actually a direct result of the radiation produced by network masts. This belief has been amplified in recent months by a startling array of British Z-list dipshits, including portly daytime TV host Eamonn Holmes, "famous in the UK" showbiz type Amanda Holden (or as Reg readers might know them, who? and who?), and boxer Amir Khan.
Unfortunately, Whitty's research didn't extend as far as checking what type of mast he was torching. A Vodafone representative told The Reg that the targeted mast was, in fact, serving bog-standard 4G.
Whitty pled guilty on May 18 via video link from HMP Altcourse — a Category B prison in the Fazakerley area of Liverpool — where he was warned a custodial sentence was inevitable.
In sentencing, Judge Thomas Teague QC said that Whitty had shown genuine remorse, but his crime had showed a "high degree of planning and premeditation."
"There was use of firelighters and, in the sense that the aim was to put the mast out of action, there was intent to cause very serious damage to property," said the judge.
A Vodafone spokesperson said: "We are extremely grateful to both Merseyside Police and the Mersey Fire and Rescue Service. The mast that was targeted provided 4G services to our customers in the area – attacks like this one deny vital connectivity to people, at a time when they need it most."
Commenting on the sentencing, Steve Ball, Detective Inspector at Merseyside Police, said: "Incidents of this nature are not victimless crimes and can have serious consequences."
"I hope that this demonstrates to the public that crimes of this nature will be investigated and we will work with our partner agencies including Mersey Fire and Rescue Service and telecommunications companies and take action against those who are responsible." ®