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COVID-19 5G Conspiracy Arsonist Gets 3 Years for Burning Mast

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 (4:33 pm) - Score 1,683
wireless microwave radio tower

The Liverpool Crown Court has sentenced Michael Whitty (47) to three years in prison after he set fire to one of Vodafone UK’s 4G masts in Kirkby on 5th April 2020, which caused damage estimated to be worth up to £15,000. Whitty’s action was fuelled by a bonkers conspiracy theory that links the spread of COVID-19 to 5G.

Sadly the outbreak of COVID-19 brought with it a bizarre new conspiracy theory, which saw supporters ignore common sense in the mistaken belief that the new generation of ultrafast 5G based mobile broadband signals had helped to create or directly transmit the virus. Both ideas are as preposterous as they are lacking in any credible scientific foundation (we’ve covered this before in our fact check).

Leaving aside the fact that a biological virus couldn’t be more different from electromagnetic radio waves, or that COVID-19 is spreading just as fast in countries and areas with no 5G at all. The one sure way to actually hurt people during a very real global pandemic is by breaking the law, committing arson and cutting off the ability of people to communicate.

On top of that a growing number of telecoms engineers (oddly including those who work on fixed broadband infrastructure) have also faced verbal and physical assault while doing their jobs. Last month Openreach alone reported 56 incidents related to the 5G theory and mobile operators have recorded around 100 attacks against their towers.

However, what hasn’t really been covered before is the arrests and convictions of people who have committed such a crime, which is partly because operators are wary of the possible impact that speaking about it could have on wider police investigations. Nevertheless we’ve seen reports of arrests for damage to EE (BT) masts in Dagenham and Birmingham, as well as Vodafone (above) and O2 in N.Ireland etc.

One of the first people to be sentenced to prison for this is Michael Whitty, a parent of three children and owner of an independent company providing parking facilities based near Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. Simon Christie, prosecuting, said: “he had spent a considerable amount of time researching 5G technology and discussing it with others in online chat rooms.”

Whitty was spotted alongside two other men fleeing the scene of an arson attack on Vodafone’s mast infrastructure, which took 11 days to repair and caused between £10,000 and £15,000 worth of damage. Perhaps ironically the police officers who searched his home also seized Whitty’s mobile phone (seemingly he wasn’t bothered about its alleged virus spewing ability?), which among other things contained photos and videos of other phone masts.

Judge Thomas Teague, QC, said:

“In my view there was here 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.”

According to the Liverpool Echo, Whitty has a string of 13 convictions for 29 offences, spanning between 1991 and 2019, including for assaulting a police officer and for possession of a firearm. Despite all this the judge said that Whitty had shown genuine remorse and also took into account some of his limited charitable work, before sending him to the slammer for 3 years.

More such convictions are expected to take place over the coming months.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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