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British man could face extradition

A young British father remains held without bond facing the possibility of 10 years in prison for threatening to go on a shooting rampage at Warren County High School last week. Still up for debate is where he will be tried, his native Great Britain or in Warren County.
The Facebook threat allegedly issued by Reece Elliott, 24, of South Shields, England led to the absences more than 2,900 students from the local school system last Thursday. The number reflects a 700 percent increase in the normal absentee rate.
Elliott was arrested Friday after an investigation by the TBI and Department of Homeland Security traced the source of the Facebook threat. The threat, which was posted on the memorial page for a local girl killed in a recent automobile accident, was placed under the screen name of Christos Fixed Giannis.
News of the threat spread like wildfire on social media sites last Wednesday, prompting numerous parents to hold their children out of school the next day. Adding to the hysteria was the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and the fact no one knew where the Facebook threat originated.
Elliott has been in custody since being arrested at his mother’s home in South Shields. The suspect is an unemployed father of a 20-month-old who was living with his mother after breaking up with his longtime girlfriend a few weeks ago.
Elliott is presently charged with making malicious communications and was ordered held without bond pending a bond hearing which is to be held this morning. His attorney, Kevin Smallcombe, argued his client has no desire to come to Warren County, nor does he even have a passport.
While having no desire to come to Warren County, there is a possibility he may be left with no choice should he be extradited here to face charges. The United States and Great Britain have an extradition treaty meaning Elliott could face such proceedings. However, according to District Attorney Lisa Zavogiannis, British law provides stiffer penalties for the crime Elliott is accused of committing than does the United States justice system.
“They have a stronger law when it comes to this sort of thing,” Zavogiannis said, noting she hopes to contact prosecutors there this week to discuss their plans for Elliott. “We are watching to see what they do there so we haven’t made a decision yet as to whether to seek extradition.”
Zavogiannis did point out should Warren County opt to bring Elliott here for trial, the money for his pick up, transport and housing would come from county funding.
Regardless of where Elliott is tried, Zavogiannis said she hopes he serves as an example to others who think they can get away with making threats online.
“Some people think they can say whatever they want online and get away with it,” Zavogiannis said, pointing out the growing amount of cyber bullying online. “I think this goes to show you will be held accountable for things you say online. Mr. Elliott was overseas and he was caught so it proves wherever you are, and whoever you are, you can be caught.”

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