Northern Ireland

Man convicted over Facebook threat against Jamie Bryson

Newtownards courthouse
Image caption Earlier, the court heard that Donnelly, from Rosemary House on the Falls Road, sent Mr Bryson a message on Facebook threatening to shoot him

A man has been convicted in his absence of making a threat on Facebook to shoot the loyalist Jamie Bryson.

Newtownards Magistrates Court heard Miceal Che Donnelly, 22, was "too stressed" to come to court on Tuesday.

After convicting Donnelly of improperly using a public communications network to send a matter that was "grossly offensive or indecent", the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Donnelly claimed the message had been "tongue in cheek".

Earlier, the court heard that Donnelly, from Rosemary House on the Falls Road, sent Mr Bryson a message on Facebook threatening to shoot him.

As well as being charged with the improper use of a communications network, Donnelly had also been accused of sending a menacing message and sending an article conveying a threat but those two lesser offences were withdrawn when the judge convicted Donnelly on the first count.

Giving evidence to the court, Mr Bryson told the judge that when he received the message on 11 September 2014, "obviously I took it as a threat to my life."

After his arrest Donnelly admitted sending the message, but said "no distress was intended" and that he was drunk at the time.

Conceding that Donnelly's excuse for his non-attendance was not acceptable, a defence barrister submitted the threat was not intended and that the judge could convict on one of the less serious offences given that "he apologies for it - it was stupid."

The judge asked how he could make an assessment of Donnelly's intention if he didn't bother coming to court and convicted him of the first count.

"If it's said on Facebook, it's an offence. People do not operate in a vacuum on Facebook," warned the judge.

Outside the court, Mr Bryson said he was "pleased" at the conviction.

"This is the third person in the space of six months to find themselves convicted of issuing threats against me - they should think a bit more sensibly in the future," Mr Bryson commented.

Related Topics