Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster urged to 'kill herself', while Priti Patel racially insulted

 

Gerard Traynor
Gerard Traynor

By Timothy Gallagher

An online troll who told DUP leader Arlene Foster to "kill herself" and racially abused new Home Secretary Priti Patel has been jailed.

Doctor's son Gerard Traynor (53) was arrested in January after he posted a string of offensive insults on Mrs Patel's social media wall, calling her a "dirty, Indian Ugandan, black P*** n*****" and saying all women should be banned from wearing the burkha.

One post on the politician's page said: "Send dirty P*** back in Asian countries where they belong. Muslim women should be banned from wearing burkha and show faces look like (sic) wailing banshee. Muslim policemen have beards like suicide bombers."

The Dublin-born cleaner, who grew up in a nunnery but who now lives in Oldham, Greater Manchester, also trolled Mrs Foster urging her to kill herself, and called for an "Armenian genocide of unionists and the killing of all Orange people".

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster

His rambling, hate-filled posts added: "Don't believe we have DUP in government, 10 DUP. You will be killed and ten DUP to the Irish Embassy. Kill you all and chop your bodies up and put your heads on the Tower of London. Why don't you kill yourself or IRA blow you up? There should be coordinated attacks on unionist shops and schools, less Orange men breeding like pigs. You should go and kill yourself, f*** off back to Scotland and give land back to Ireland or Ian Paisley will be killed by IRA.

"Criminal Arlene Foster you worse (sic) than Ian Paisley and all your loyalist politicians should be shot in head. You look like a dirty hooker. Unionist women should be raped by Catholic men."

In a statement to police Mrs Patel, who was appointed Home Secretary on Wednesday by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: "I converse with the public on a daily basis. This can provoke debate and I am faced with criticism.

"This incident has taken acceptable behaviour to serious criminality, the content was shocking and disgusting in its nature and the messages were racist, grossly offensive, hugely upsetting and caused me to feel intimidated. It had a huge impact on both my personal and professional life, I am a lot more wary of my surroundings when I am in public."

Mrs Foster said: "I expect a degree of commentary but these messages overstep the mark of free speech. I don't know the sender, where he was or what his intentions were. I was concerned about my own movements but at least I am in control of my own movements, my concerns were for my family and those around me."

At Manchester Crown Court, Traynor was jailed for 22 months after he admitted sending offensive messages between October and December 2018. He has a history of sending malicious communications and racist assaults stretching back to 2004.

Prosecuting counsel Marianne Alton said: "The defendant sent malicious messages over Facebook to Arlene Foster and Priti Patel. The messages to Arlene Foster were menacing, threatening and grossly offensive in nature.

"The messages were sent to Priti Patel on one occasion and were menacing, grossly offensive and racially abusive.

"The defendant admitted that his intention was to cause distress and anxiety to the recipients. In Arlene Foster's case his hope was that she would leave politics and/or 'her heart would stop'. They have provided impact statements having suffered distress or fear for their personal safety.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who was also targeted
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who was also targeted

"Between 15th October and 13th November last year the defendant used his own Facebook profile to send a series of messages to Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP. They have been subject of intense media coverage in the last year because of the circumstances surrounding Ireland and Brexit.

"They were highly abusive, including racist and insulting language, graphic threats and references to Arlene Foster's family members. He asked where she was located and there were further messages which included offensive language against Protestants, Muslims and Jewish people. On the 9th December 2018 the defendant posted an offensive message on Priti Patel's Facebook wall making comments about black people and Asian people.

"He has high-functioning autism but was assessed as fit for prosecution. In interview he admitted sending the messages on his account.

"In regard to Arlene Foster, when questioned he replied he wanted to cause her anxiety and distress in the hope that she would leave politics and her heart would stop.

"In relation to Priti Patel he said that he couldn't care less that she might feel distressed.

"He made a further comment about hanging all the unionists and when asked why said that he was a nationalist."

Traynor has 11 previous convictions for similar offences stretching back to 2004 including four for sending malicious communications.

He also received a suspended sentence in 2017 for racially or religiously aggravated common assault.

Traynor previously sent racist communications to a probation worker, a police officer and a psychiatrist, as well as throwing a brick at his neighbour's mother in a racially motivated attack.

Defence barrister John Marsh said: "This defendant had the most dreadful life event if you discount the difficulties that he has with Asperger's syndrome.

Born in southern Ireland his mother was a 19-year-old student nurse, his father was a doctor from the Indian subcontinent who abandoned them before Traynor was born.

"The maternal grandparents wouldn't allow his mother to keep him and so he went to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and there was an attempt for him to be adopted. He was returned to the sisters; eventually he was adopted by a couple from southern Ireland. They were strict Catholics and nationalists and they lived in Oldham.

"Some of the defendant's views are covered by his upbringing, the influences he had as a child. His adoptive parents eventually moved back to southern Ireland, leaving him here in England.

"He found that his natural mother had moved to Canada, she will have no contact with him at all. He also found he had two half-brothers in Canada, her sons; he tried to contact them but to no avail.

"In Easter 2018 he found out that his mother had died at the age of 70 at Christmas 2017. His two half-brothers had known nothing about him until they were going through the mother's papers and they found reference to him. One of his proudest possessions is a Christmas card that he received from them.

"He is a man who is incredibly lonely, he has nothing really to occupy his time.

"I am sure the victims were frightened and upset but I wonder how frightened and upset they might have been if they had known in advance about this defendant's disability, that he doesn't have the same social impulsion the rest of us do.''

Sentencing, the judge Mr Justice Simon Bryan told Traynor: "This was not the exercise of the democratic right to free speech or the type of critical commentary that all politicians face on a day to day basis. On the contrary the messages are deeply offensive and threatening. I will not give your bigoted hatred the oxygen of publicity in my sentencing remarks.

"Indeed in interview, and whilst you claimed that you did not intend to go through with any threats, you admitted that your malicious comments were made with the intention to distress and cause anxiety to your victim. Your victims had no reason not to treat your threats seriously. You showed a complete lack of remorse in interview as reflected in your comments at that time."

In regard to Priti Patel he said: "The content of your message is shocking and disgusting, and is clearly racially motivated. It uses debased language that has no place in our multi-cultural society and was designed to insult and to demean and incite racial hatred. It was rude and offensive to many different faiths, and to many individuals including other serving MPs."

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