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Man admits online threats to loyalist Jamie Bryson

By Michael Kenwood

Published 29/10/2015

Ryan Padraig Maguire who pleaded guilty to making threats against Jamie Bryson
Ryan Padraig Maguire who pleaded guilty to making threats against Jamie Bryson

A West Belfast man has admitted making threats on social media to kill loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson.

At Ards Magistrates Court, 26-year-old Ryan Padraig Maguire, of Springhill Rise, Belfast, pleaded guilty to sending messages on a public electronic communications network that were of 'an offensive or indecent, obscene or of a menacing character' on August 16 and 17.

He was listed to contest the case, but made guilty pleas after the Public Prosecution Service withdrew charges of threats to kill against Mr Bryson.

The court heard the loyalist blogger made a statement to police that he had received threatening messages on Facebook and Twitter.

One message from Maguire read: "Roses are red, violets are blue, hello Jamie, I'm going to kill you. PS Have a terrible day."

The prosecutor said Maguire later admitted sending the messages on his own accounts, but added he did not want the messages to be perceived as real threats.

Maguire's lawyer told the court the messages were "not meant to be taken seriously" and added Maguire had told police that he would personally apologise to Mr Bryson.

Bryson appeared in the gallery during the proceedings.

Maguire's lawyer said Mr Bryson had a "media profile, much of which deals with controversial attitudes," and added even though his client had made "idiotic" comments, said it was a "regular occurrence" for similar remarks to be made on social media.

The lawyer said "it would not have taken Sherlock Holmes to work out who sent these messages," pointing out Maguire had done so using his own social media accounts.

He said Maguire at the time had taken drinks at a party, and sent the messages "as a bet" to impress his friends. The lawyer said he lost his job over the matter after his employer saw media reports about the charges.

District Judge Mark Hamill said: "There certainly is no shortage of morons on social media," and asked the defence lawyer: "How was the complainant supposed to deduce from a complete stranger that this was a joke?" Judge Hamill added: 'The proposed contest here eludes me. When you send a Facebook message you might as well chisel it in stone."

The judge adjourned the matter to November 25 for probation reports.

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