Belfast Telegraph

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson to learn next week if Facebook post charge will continue

Ruth Patterson leaves Belfast Magistrates' Court this morning. Pic Alan Lewis
Ruth Patterson leaves Belfast Magistrates' Court this morning. Pic Alan Lewis

By Alan Erwin

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson will learn next week if her prosecution for an alleged offensive posting on Facebook is to continue, a court heard today.

Mrs Patterson's lawyer was told a final decision on whether to proceed with the charge will be confirmed by Friday.

A prosecution lawyer gave the undertaking as the judge rejected a bid to have the case against the politician struck out.

Mrs Patterson, the former deputy lord mayor of Belfast, has been charged with sending a grossly offensive electronic communication.

It relates to comments linked to another Facebook user's posting about an imaginary attack on a republican parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

The 57-year-old former nurse was arrested and charged in August.

At a previous hearing it was confirmed that she will be pleading not guilty.

Mrs Patterson attended Belfast Magistrates Court today as her solicitor, Denis Moloney, applied to have the case thrown out.

He said the Public Prosecution Service were to state their final position by this stage.

"This matter has been going on since August," Mr Moloney told District Judge Fiona Bagnall.

"It should have been dealt with by summons, not by charge. I would ask Your Worship to strike the matter out."

A PPS representative agreed that a decision was to have been made by today.

"The decision is almost finalised and my application would be for one week," he said."There's one further matter to be finalised before the decision can be taken."

Granting the PPS another seven days to conclude matters and rejecting the defence request, Judge Bagnall told Mr Moloney: "If there had been no prospect of a decision there might be some more strength in your application."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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