Belfast Telegraph

Man convicted of menacing DUP’s Gregory Campbell with post on Facebook

By George Jackson

An unemployed chef has been convicted of posting offensive and menacing messages about DUP MP Gregory Campbell on Facebook — the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.



Daryl O'Donnell was found guilty after writing offensive comments about the East Londonderry MP after the publication of the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday on June 20 last year.

The father-of-two disagreed with comments the DUP man made to the media after the Government apologised to the families of those killed by Paratroopers on the streets of Derry in 1972.

O'Donnell (31), from Belvedere Park in the Foyle Springs area of Derry, admitted posting a message on Facebook about Mr Campbell reading: “He's a dirty Orange lying b*****d and should get a bullet in the head. At least he would have got it for something — scumbag.”

He denied that the message was offensive or menacing.

O’Donnell told Derry Magistrates Court: “I was not born on Bloody Sunday but I saw the effects it had on the people in Guildhall Square last June. There were people crying and a great weight had been lifted off their shoulders. It was a great day and when I saw the comments Gregory Campbell had made about the Inquiry, I was very angry.”

The defendant told District Judge Barney McElholm: “In anger I decided to post my comment. It was a throwaway comment, I never meant any harm. When I woke up the next day and checked Facebook, I saw my comment and decided to take it off because I realised I should have kept my opinions to myself.”

O’Donnell was convicted of posting “a grossly offensive, menacing message on the social network site” in contrary to the Electronic Communications Act of 2003, in what was the first prosecution of its kind in the UK. The District Judge said O’Donnell would be sentenced on July 29.

He made it clear he was not considering a custodial sentence.

Earlier, Detective Constable Richard Jack told the court that the comment was brought to the attention of the police by Mr Campbell on June 21, the day after it was posted.

Concluding, Mr McElholm said: “There is no doubt that Bloody Sunday was an outrage against any concept of natural justice. It brought a lot of people into the legal profession, including myself. Mr Campbell was in one way entitled to comment about how much the Inquiry cost, but someone else might say if the Government in Westminster at the time had apologised there would not have been the need for the Inquiry.

“There is no doubt many people in this city were outraged by Mr Campbell's comments, but he was entitled to make them and that is the nature of democracy.”

Mr McElholm said Mr O'Donnell was wrong to post the “offensive and menacing” comments.

Background

After the Saville Report was published, the DUP’s Gregory Campbell said: “There are thousands of people throughout the United Kingdom who have been denied justice and may never know who was responsible for the death of their loved ones.

“They have had no costly inquiries nor have they received the attention of the international press corps.

“We did not need a £200m inquiry to establish that there was no premeditated plan to shoot civilians on that day.

“We did not need an inquiry of this length to tell us that as a consequence of IRA actions prior to that day, parts of Londonderry “lay in ruins” to use Lord Saville’s own words.”

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