Azhar Ahmed must do 240 hours of community service after writing on Facebook: 'All soldiers should die and go to hell'

A man who posted a Facebook message following the deaths of six British soldiers which said: "All soldiers should die and go to hell" has been sentenced to a community order and told to pay costs of £300 by magistrates.

Azhar Ahmed, 20, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, admitted posting the message two days after the deaths of the soldiers in March this year but told a trial at Huddersfield magistrates court last month that he did not think it was offensive. The remarks were derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory, the court ruled last month as a district judge found him guilty of a grossly offensive communication.

He will complete 240 hours of community service over a two-year period, the court ruled.

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of the 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment was killed by a massive improvised explosive device on 6 March in the deadliest attack on British forces in Afghanistan for more than a decade alongside Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20 and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.

Ahmed made his comments on the social networking site two days later. He told the court he had deleted the message as soon as he realised what reaction it was getting. He said he had replied with apologies to many people who commented on his page and when some told them they had lost relatives in Afghanistan, he realised how serious it had been. But he denied that the message was grossly offensive and said he thought it would just have been upsetting and caused distress.

He said he was only trying to make his point that many other deaths in Afghanistan were being ignored.

At the trial in September, District Judge Jane Goodwin said the law was not there to stop legitimate political opinion being strongly voiced. But she said the test was whether what had been written was "beyond the pale of what is tolerable in our society". She said Ahmed's post cleared this hurdle and she was satisfied that the message was grossly offensive.

© Guardian News and Media 2012