A schoolgirl who set up a website to humiliate a fellow pupil and carried out a "happy slapping" attack on her was told by magistrates yesterday that she was "a very lucky young lady" to avoid jail.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, created a website and registered it under the name "apeface". It ridiculed another 16-year-old girl who had once been her friend and it received more than 800 hits before it was shut down by police.

Fellow pupils added their own insults about the victim on the site, before she reported it to police.

Mid-Sussex magistrates' court, at Haywards Heath, also heard that the victim had been surrounded by 30 pupils at the all-girls school and assaulted. The attack was filmed on a mobile phone.

The defendant, who admitted assault and harassment, was said to have achieved top grades in her GCSEs. She tearfully told the court: "I'm really sorry for what I did."

Magistrates opted to impose a 12-month referral order so that she could "address her offending behaviour". The chairman, Rob Saunders, told her: "The offences, with their degree of unpleasantness, merit a custodial sentence. You are a very lucky young lady."
 

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