Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland teen’s global death threats case ‘being held up by London Mayor’s office’

Matthew Burns
Matthew Burns
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
London Mayor Sadiq Khan

By Donal McMahon

Outstanding communication from the London Mayor's office has delayed the case of an Armagh teenager charged with making social media death threats to world political leaders.

Matthew Burns, wearing a suit and glasses, appeared before Newry Magistrates Court yesterday with his mother.

The 19-year-old, of Dundalk Road, Newtownhamilton, is charged with making threats to the Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn.

The prosecution said that communication with the office of the Mayor of London was outstanding in the investigation.

Phone forensics were also pending.

Defence asked for a "target date" to be agreed going forward in the court proceedings.

Alluding to the delay, District Judge Eamonn King asked if it was the "current Mayor and not the previous one (Boris Johnson)", the now UK Prime Minister visiting Northern Ireland yesterday.

The defendant is further charged with making death threats to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ms Ardern touched the hearts of the New Zealand people when speaking out after a mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

A Twitter message to the New Zealand Prime Minster was said to have been made directly after the terrorist attack.

The court heard that a photo of a gun silencer was sent, with the message "you're next".

The accused was arrested on April 11.

Two dates of offending are said to have taken place on Twitter and Facebook in December 2018 and March 20, 2019

During police interview Mr Burns said he had far-right political leanings and had negative sentiments towards minorities, Muslims and the LGBTQ community. Volumes of similar posts towards minorities were said to be under investigation by the PSNI cyber unit.

The defendant was released on £500 bail to his parents' custody with a £1,000 cash surety, with the condition that he has no internet connection and adheres to a curfew. The case was adjourned to August 28.

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