Belfast Telegraph

Arrest ordered of man who threatened to shoot Jamie Bryson

By Paul Higgins

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a Belfast man who was convicted in his absence of threatening to shoot loyalist Jamie Bryson.

Newtownards Magistrates Court heard how 22-year-old Miceal Che Donnelly was "too stressed" to come to court for his contest.

District Judge Mark Hamill convicted the defendant of improperly using a public communications network to send a matter that was "grossly offensive or indecent".

"That will add to his stress levels, I'm afraid," said the judge, who added that "people don't operate in a vacuum on Facebook".

Earlier the court had heard that Donnelly, from Rosemary House on the Falls Road, sent Mr Bryson a message on Facebook threatening to shoot him.

As well as being charged with the improper use of a communications network, Donnelly was accused of sending a menacing message and sending an article conveying a threat.

But those two lesser offences were withdrawn after Judge Hamill convicted Donnelly on the first count.

Quoting the message, a prosecuting lawyer told the court that Donnelly had written to the loyalist flag protester turned political campaign manager, declaring: "Tell ya what, see if I ever come across you I would be happy to put you in a coffin. I would shoot you if I had the opportunity." Giving evidence to the court, Mr Bryson told the judge that when he received the message on September 11, 2014, he "obviously" took it as a threat to his life.

After being arrested and interviewed by police, Donnelly claimed that the message had been "tongue-in-cheek" in nature, and while he admitted sending it, he said he was drunk at the time and that "no distress was intended".

Conceding that Donnelly's excuse for his non-attendance was not acceptable, defence barrister Chris Holmes submitted that the threat was not intended and that the judge could convict his client on one of the less serious offences given that "he apologies for it - it was stupid".

Judge Hamill asked, however, how he could make an assessment of Donnelly's intention "if he doesn't even bother to come to court"?

"(I will) convict on the first count, which is the most serious," said the judge, adding: "Surely he will show enough interest to come to court and appeal it before the County Court.

"People have to realise that if this was said on the street, it's an offence.

"If it's said on Facebook, it's an offence. People do not operate in a vacuum on Facebook."

Outside the court Mr Bryson said that he was "pleased" at the conviction.

"This is the third person in the space of six months to find themselves convicted of issuing threats against me," the loyalist added.

"They should think a bit more sensibly in the future."

Belfast Telegraph


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