LETHBRIDGE – A former Chinook High School student has been fined, after admitting that he posted a couple of images on social media that caused a disruption at the west side school in September.
Mohammad Farawan originally entered a not guilty plea to a ticket under the School Act for disturbing the proceeding of a school on Nov. 21, with a trial set for June of 2018. The 18-year-old then had the matter brought back into court Tuesday morning, Dec. 5, and with the help of an Arabic interpreter, he changed his plea to guilty.
Crown prosecutor, Garry Kaskiw, explained that on the evening of Sept. 25, 2017, Lethbridge Police were contacted by a concerned parent, after their child had received a pair of photos on the social media platform, Snapchat. One photo was of a gun lying on a pack of cigarettes, with Chinook High School written over the image. The second photo was of a pencil case full of bullets, again with Chinook High School written over the image.
Kaskiw said that between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., police received a number of complaints, as the images began to circulate throughout the school community.
After being alerted and looking into the matter the next morning, Sept. 26, Chinook High School sent out an email to all students, informing them that the school would be open and that everyone would be safe. Kaskiw stated that only 20-per cent of the regular student body attended school that day, causing a significant disruption at the institution.
When Farawan arrived later in the morning, he was met by police and school staff, and was spoken to with the aid of an interpreter. He immediately admitted that he had posted the images. It was determined that when he sent the images out, they had gone onto a friend’s Snapchat storyline, which allowed other students to view them as well.
One student who saw the image contacted Farawan via text, asking if he was serious. She reported to police that Farawan’s reply was several laughing face emojis, and he then blocked her from his Snapchat.
“I posted what I posted for friends,” Farawan told the court through his interpreter, adding that it was intended as a joke. He also noted that he is no longer a student at the school.
“This is not even remotely funny,” said Kaskiw, explaining that such a post in the current social climate could have resulted in much more serious consequences. He stated that Farawan was fortunate that police chose to proceed under the School Act and not the criminal code, which would have left him with a criminal record.
David Price, the traffic commissioner presiding over the courtroom, echoed the Crown’s comments before deciding on a sentence.
“This isn’t even slightly amusing. A man of 18 should know better, especially in this day and age,” said Price. “This is beyond foolishness. This was a reckless act.”
Price then imposed the maximum fine available of $2,000, telling Farawan that should he fail to pay it by Apr. 30, 2018, he could face up to 20 days in jail.
“I hope this process has been an educational one for you,” Price added. “And I hope you learned something about such reckless actions.”
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