Judge says Newtownards man 'poses risk' to Health Minister Robin Swann

Judge says Newtownards man 'poses risk' to Health Minister Robin Swann

A JUDGE refused bail for a 44-year-old Newtownards man because of the "risk he poses" to Health Minister Robin Swann.

William Herbert Hawkes is charged with making a threat to kill Mr Swann as part of an alleged campaign of harassment.

The case was mentioned at Newtownards Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Hawkes, with an address listed as Ardmillan Crescent, 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 charges relate to a report of online abuse towards Mr Swann.

The defendant is also charged with making a threat to kill the Health Minister; harassment and improper use of electronic communications regarding an alleged Twitter post in November last year which allegedly said: 'I would advocate the killing of Northern Ireland's Health Minister'.

In relation to the January accusations a police officer told a previous hearing that in a social media message Hawkes allegedly said: 'Never in my life have I ever had such an overwhelming desire to kill such an individual'.

The previous hearing was told by a defence solicitor that the defendant had a "psychiatric breakdown".

At the March 9 court, a defence lawyer said: "I fully accept they are unsavoury comments".

He said the defendant's "psychiatric issues" could be best addressed by the defendant being released on bail.

District Judge Mark Hamill refused bail, saying that in relation to the November allegations he had given the defendant Probation eleven days earlier for a related matter.

He said the alleged January incident was a third matter.

Judge Hamill added: "There is no way in the world this man can be granted bail because of the risk he poses to Mr Swann. Bail is refused, there is no change in circumstances. This is a hopeless bail application".

The case was adjourned to April 6.

  • Main picture: Health Minister Robin Swann.