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Man has harassment charges dropped after drone tweet

By Alan Erwin

A Belfast man accused of tweeting about a drone being sent to the home area of a former TUV election candidate has had harassment charges dismissed.

Michael Hickland (42) was instead bound over for two years and ordered to have no social media contact with political commentator David Vance.

Hickland, of Cavendish Street in the city, had been charged with harassing him on dates between January 2013 and June 2016.

He also faced a second count of improperly using a public electronic communications network to send a message that was “grossly offensive... or of a menacing character”.

Charges against him related to a tweet allegedly offering to supply coordinates for sending a drone.

Hickland was set to contest the case against him at Belfast Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

But his barrister, Sean O’Hare, revealed that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) was instead seeking to have the charges dismissed.

The resolution was reached after the defendant agreed to the binding over order.

A PPS lawyer stressed she wanted to ensure Hickland does not use Mr Vance’s name on Twitter.

District Judge Amanda Henderson ordered him: “You’re not to have any contact, direct or indirect, with the injured party David Vance.

“That isn’t just face to face, but significantly through any form of social media.”

Mr Hickland’s barrister added that the defendant had already taken action across his social media platforms to ensure that Mr Vance would no longer see his posts.

“The two of them will have their own, separate online lives,” he added.

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