A TEENAGER who posted vile sexually explicit messages about missing five-year-old April Jones has walked free of court.

Sam Busby, aged 18, of McIntyre Road in St John's Worcester, appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Previously admitting a charge of making a grossly offensive message on the social networking website Facebook, he was back in the dock wearing a denim shirt, and a poppy, for sentencing.

Kerry Lovegrove, prosecuting, said a series of comments had been reported by a member of the public as that person scanned through Busby’s Facebook page on Saturday, October 6.

The comments related to the missing youngster April Jones, who disappeared from the village of Machynlleth in Wales on October 1.

A man remains in custody charged with her abduction, murder and perverting the course of justice, while she is still missing.

It was while a major search operation was underway in Wales to find a trace of April, that Busby’s first offensive comment appeared online, published to anyone who came across his page.

It provoked a response from one of his online friends, who suggested his comments were “too soon”.

However, he then published a second posting which was sexually explicit in nature.

Miss Lovegrove said a friend again warned Busby “this [the comment] was inappropriate”, writing “you’re messed in the head”.

Busby then responded with yet another sexually explicit posting relating to April Jones.

Police arrested Busby after the comments were reported to officers, and in interview he admitted making the comments.

“He said he was an immature teenager and it was an attempt to get attention," said Miss Lovegrove.

“He thought the comments could only be seen by friends.”

Miss Lovegrove said in two recent and relevant cases a man was jailed for 12 weeks “for an almost identical offence, where comments were made about April Jones via Facebook”, while another served 56 days for posting an offensive remark about a different incident.

Busby's solicitor Belinda Ariss told magistrates he was “so ashamed” at what he had said, he had told his family not to come into the courtroom so they would not hear twhat he had said - although they had turned up to support him.

After reading a pre-sentence report, the magistrates spent 45 minutes deliberating.

Gill Porter, magistrates chairman, told the teenager his messages had been "grossly offensive".

“This has cause an immense amount of distress, not only to the recipient but potentially to April Jones’ family and friends.

“It happened at a sensitive time for all concerned, and on a matter which had attracted great public interest.

“You were warned by your friends, but you took no notice.”

“Indeed you made further even more offensive comments and - as the charge sheet reads - there were grossly offensive.”

He was given a six-week jail sentence suspended for 18 months, with a community order for 200 hours unpaid work.

Busby was also made subject to a curfew between 7pm and 7am, every day for the next eight weeks.

In addition he was ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £80.

The court was told Busby had expressed "remorse" and fully accepted what he had done was beyond what was acceptable in civilised society.

He was also of previous good character without a conviction or caution to his name, prior to this offence.

Mrs Ariss said her client had since withdrawn from using social networking sites altogether.

Outside court, he told your Worcester News he felt he had been treated "fairly" and that he fully accepted the ramifications of his “punishment”.