A COUPLE sent vile ‘hope you die of cancer and get Covid’ messages to sisters after they fell out over online videogame Grand Theft Auto.

Richard Jonathan Weaver, 28, and partner Rebecca Kopacz, 36, of Worcester Road, Droitwich each admitted two malicious communications offences when they appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court yesterday. Because Weaver had sent similar offensive messages before, magistrates banned him from using Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

Both made threatening comments against Amanda Stewart and Heather Thompson on Boxing Day last year after the couple had not invited them to join in an online game of Grand Theft Auto on Xbox, a videogame involving guns, gangsters and fast cars. The messages involved sending an electronic communication (WhatsApp voice message) conveying a threat for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety to the recipient or any other person.

The sisters are from Cramlington, Northumberland and had never met the couple in person although had been in communication for seven years, the court heard. Ralph Robyns-Landricombe, prosecuting, said: "The two parties fell out over a game." Kopacz's messages included ‘you can die of cancer’ and ‘I hope you catch Covid-19’, ‘take an overdose and die’, ‘I’m glad your daughter is dead’ and ‘watch your back because someone is coming to batter you!’ Offensive terms like ‘cow’ and ‘dirty skanky bitch’ were also used. Weaver left similar offensive messages including ‘drop dead’ and ‘die of cancer’ and ‘I didn’t threaten to kill you – I threatened to batter you’. In total the pair left 12 voice messages between them.

Sarah Brady, defending the couple, said: "It was a falling out between people who knew each other reasonably well, but not face-to-face, over a game."

Mrs Brady said Weaver had autism and while Kopacz had no diagnosed learning disability, she could not read or write.

Kopacz was given a two year conditional discharge, ordered to pay costs of £100 and a victim surcharge of £22. Weaver was given a community order with a prohibitive requirement not to use WhatsApp, Instagram or Messenger for two years. He was also ordered to pay a fine of £80, a victim surcharge of £95 and £100 costs. Both were made subject to a two year restraining order in relation to both complainants.