Defence lawyer for Newtownards man accused of threatening to kill Robin Swann expresses concerns about delays

Defence lawyer for Newtownards man accused of threatening to kill Robin Swann expresses concerns about delays

A DEFENCE lawyer for a 44-year-old Newtownards man charged with making threats to kill Health Minister Robin Swann has expressed concerns over delays in the case.

William Herbert Hawkes, of Ardmillan Crescent, has been remanded in custody in connection with matter for several months, Newtownards Magistrates' Court was told.

Hawkes is accused in relation to January 22 this year.

As well as the threat to kill allegation, the defendant is accused of harassing Mr Swann and improper use of electronic communications on January 22.

The defendant also faces similar charges relating to the Health Minister on November 15 last year.

The charges relate to reports of online abuse towards Mr Swann.

A PSNI officer objected to bail at an earlier court, saying police believe there is a "real threat to the life of the Health Minister Robin Swann".

She alleged the defendant had "continued a campaign against Mr Swann".

Meanwhile, a prosecutor told Wednesday's Court "phone reports" in the case are still to be received.

She asked for a four weeks adjournment.

A defence lawyer asked District Judge Mark Hamill: "Is Your Worship not a bit concerned that in the context of a case that consists of threats that were made that my client has been in custody for eight months and the Crown are asking for another four weeks?"

The lawyer said it was getting to the point where prosecutors should perhaps be considering withdrawing the charges to proceed by way of "summons".

Judge Hamill said it should be a "straight forward" case and agreed to the defence suggestion to adjourn the case only for two weeks.

The prosecutor said an investigating police officer could perhaps be called to attend the next court to tell what the delay is.

She said withdrawing the charges would not be an option as bail conditions would be required.

Judge Hamill said: "Threatening to kill a government minister, given Probation for it and then allegedly repeating the threat whilst on Probation".

He added: "When the same allegation is repeated, whilst on Probation for a similar allegation, I assume it is going to the Crown Court but I won't be surprised if the prosecution decide to keep it in the Magistrates' Court".

The case was adjourned to May 25.

  • Main picture: Robin Swann.