Belfast Telegraph

Suspended sentence for troll who posted Anna Lo gun threat online

By Nevin Farrell

A man who posted a photo of himself posing with a rifle alongside a threat to Alliance MLA Anna Lo warning "you are next" on Facebook has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

David John Wylie (51) was given four months in jail, suspended for three years, when he appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

The Co Antrim man was sentenced on four charges of improper use of a communications network by posting grossly offensive and menacing messages on Facebook between May 22 and June 2 last year.

Last night, Ms Lo welcomed the sentence. "I hope this shows that those who make offensive and threatening messages will have to deal with the full force of the courts and face the consequences of their actions," she said.

"Those sending these sorts of messages will never deter Alliance from working on behalf of everyone in our society to build a safe, shared and prosperous society for all.

"I hope that this judgment will act as a deterrent to others from making such messages on social media. There is a growing problem of cyber-bullying and sending threatening messages online that we must take a strong stance against."

A prosecutor explained how police had received a report that a man had posted an offensive messages about Anna Lo after the image appeared online.

There was also a picture of Wylie, from Riverdale, Larne, with what appeared to be a rifle. When his home was searched, toy guns and "altered" Alliance Party posters were found.

The prosecutor said that Ms Lo had been aware of the messages and had been "in fear".

Wylie told police he had made the posts from his own Facebook account and had taken the Alliance posters from a car park. He said he owned the toy guns.

A defence solicitor claimed his client was in no way racist and had no particular axe to grind with Alliance or Ms Lo, and that the posts were made while the defendant was drinking.

The solicitor added that Wylie made no attempt to conceal his identity and now realised the seriousness of the matter, for which he wished to apologise.

District judge Des Perry ordered Wylie into the court cells over lunchtime while he considered the matter.

Afterwards, he told the defendant: "You may have found this to be funny. I can assure you I didn't find it funny and I'm sure Ms Lo did not find it funny after being subjected to this type of thing in the past."

The judge accepted that Wylie, who has a previous criminal record, had made no attempt to conceal his identity and had been drinking, and suspended a jail term.

Belfast Telegraph

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