Why did Katie Bell become an online troll?
‘She's got something really dark going on. When she's upset about something she takes it out and it’s really malicious’
Good afternoon members — and welcome to Thursday’s Tribune.
Why drives internet trolls to do what they do? Earlier this month, 27-year-old Katie Bell was jailed for 15 months for subjecting a grieving widow to years of abuse on Twitter. What possessed her to do it? And will the long prison sentence she is currently serving have the desired effect? We spoke to one of Katie’s many victims as well as someone in Sheffield who recently worked with her — and discovered the story of a troubled young woman who seems unable to stop.
Editor’s note: We hope you’re enjoying the variety of stories you’re getting with The Tribune at the moment. Adding Victoria — who was paid for by our 1,530 members — has already been a massive help. In the future we also hope to add more cultural commentary to our repertoire. But in order to do that we need your support. If you want to ensure the long term future for thoughtful, nuanced and independent journalism in Sheffield, please join as a member today. Thank you.
🔥 Police are investigating after more than 50 cars, vans and motorbikes were set alight in a mass arson attack in Sheffield. The attack, which took place late on Tuesday evening, is believed to have taken place at a compound on Parkway Drive in Darnall where cars that have been seized by police are kept. The fire service said no one was injured but people in the area were asked to keep their doors and windows closed. Police are treating the blaze as arson.
🏗️ A nice image gallery in The Star looks at how different the city centre will look when all the buildings projects that are currently underway are complete. A new hotel, three food halls, a riverside park and new public space are all due to be completed within the next 12 months, while parts of the refurbished Cole Brothers store could be open again in the next six months. The £480m Heart of the City project is also due to be completed early next year.
📚 The Telegraph has a great first review for Catherine Taylor’s new book, The Stirrings: A Memoir in Northern Time, which tells the story of her childhood and adolescence in 1970s and 1980s Sheffield. Named after another name for the “Sheffield outrages” of the 1860s, the book weaves together the personal and political into a “vivid chronicle of a young woman’s journey into adulthood, and an equally vivid portrait of a place and moment in time.”
Things to do
🎸 Tramlines obviously sold out months ago, but from Thursday to Sunday, over 35 largely free stages will be set up around the city as part of the fringe. There is so much on it’s difficult to sum up in just a few words (for a full list of all the stages and times see this amazing site). However, my personal picks would be HENGE, aka the greatest band in the universe, at the Pax in the Park festival on Friday evening (8pm), and the fantastic Sheffield Beatles Project at Devonshire Green on Sunday (6pm). Also taking place as part of the fringe on Saturday and Sunday behind Fagan’s on Boden Lane will be Our Sweet Space, a stage curated by and featuring the brilliant Sheffield-based four-piece Before Breakfast.
🌱 Bring your spare house plants, plant babies or even mature plants along to Theatre Deli on Saturday, 22 July for Sheffield Plant Swap (10.30am-11.30am). The regular event is run by Sarah Rousseau and Fay Kenworthy, two plant-loving friends who want to bring people together in an informal, social setting to exchange plants as well as tips and knowledge. Even if you’ve nothing to swap, you can still head down and take home a small plant. Admission is £3.
🎭 On Saturday, 22 July, the amazing Handlebards will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the South Street Amphitheatre behind Sheffield station. For the uninitiated, the Handlebards are a group of actors who cycle around the country performing riotously funny versions of Shakespeare plays in open air settings. I’ve seen them three times now and can wholeheartedly recommend them. The performance is pay what you can and begins at 5pm.
Why did Katie Bell become an online troll?
By Dan Hayes
One day late last year, October, maybe November, Connor Gurney noticed some strange messages on Twitter. They weren’t directed at him, but someone he knew, a friend who lives in the south of England. But their content still concerned him.
“The messages were saying she was this and that,” he tells me. “At one point she said she was a paedophile.” Gurney tagged the police, asking them to look into them, and thought little else of it. Just another day on the Wild West that is Twitter.
The 23-year-old lives in Cheshire, and follows Merseyside Police (the neighbouring police force) on the popular social media site. Around the same time the force put out a routine missing persons appeal for information about the whereabouts of a 15-year-old, and the same name cropped up again: Katie Bell.
Digging deeper, he also noticed a post that Bell, who is from Sheffield, had written underneath a story about a woman being stabbed in London. “Serves her right,” she had written. When Gurney tagged in the Metropolitan Police, Bell threatened to kill him and told him he wouldn’t be around long enough to report it to the police.