Belfast Telegraph

Teen accused of sending abusive messages to Arlene Foster barred from using social media

By Brett Campbell

A Co Down teenager covered his face as he left court yesterday after being accused of sending "grossly offensive" electronic messages to former First Minister Arlene Foster.

Mark Gareth Alfred Sloan, of Ballykeel Court in Ballymartin, appeared in the dock at Newry Magistrates Court only for a few moments as the charge was read out to him.

The 18-year-old stands accused of "improper use of a public communication network" after allegedly sending "grossly offensive and indecent" messages to the DUP leader through social media on July 4 this year.

He spoke briefly only to confirm that he understood, and agreed to bail conditions set out by District Judge Eamonn King.

"You are to have no contact, directly or indirectly, with Arlene Foster," Mr King told the defendant.

"You are also not to use Facebook or any other social media site." Sloan stood still as Mr King made clear that any breach of the conditions could result in him being held in custody until proceedings continue in five weeks' time.

When ask if he understood and accepted the conditions, the softly spoken teen replied: "Yes."

A detective said she believed it was possible to connect Sloan with the charge.

Sloan left court wearing a white baseball cap and held a newspaper to his face in an attempt to conceal his face.

The older of two men who accompanied the accused directed expletives toward members of the media outside the courthouse.

Sloan was released on his own bail of £250 and will reappear in the same court on September 6.

Belfast Telegraph

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