Suspended jail term for man who threatened to kill loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson

Suspended jail term for man who threatened to kill loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson

A MAN who threatened to kill loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson has been given an eight months prison term, suspended for three years.

Brian Smith (30), of Cliftonville Road, appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court on Wednesday via a video link from his solicitor's office.

The defendant also made a threat to Mr Bryson regarding petrol bombing of property and harassed him in July last year.

A two year Restraining Order was also put in place.

A prosecutor said Mr Bryson received messages on Facebook Messenger.

The prosecutor said the defendant told police he had been "drunk" when the messages were sent.

The court heard the messages said Mr Bryson was "a dead man walking" and "watch your back" alongside gun emojis.

Another message said Mr Bryson would be "six feet under" and made reference to his "buddy Willie Frazer".

District Judge Mark Hamill noted the defendant claimed the messages were a "joke" and the judge added: "He has a very poor sense of humour".

A defence lawyer said the defendant had "mental health difficulties"

He said the defendant was "susceptible to peer pressure".

The lawyer added: "These message are completely unacceptable, highly distasteful. No doubt Mr Bryson would have been worried by receipt of these messages."

The lawyer said Smith was "drunk" and was with others who "no doubt were egging him on".

The lawyer said in the context of a "borderline IQ issue and potential ADHD one could see how Mr Smith was spurred on by the others, no doubt".

He said the defendant works for a building firm and "hopefully he can put this matter behind him".

The defence barrister said it had been "a wake-up call to Mr Smith and indeed for others that what gets put out there on social media can come back to bite and come back to bite in a significant way".

Judge Hamill said it was a "warning to all these armchair warriors out there who sit at keyboards and just issue bile on the internet without any heed of the consequences. Well there are consequences".

Handing down the suspended sentence, Judge Hamill told the defendant: "The next time your fingers hover over a keyboard and you feel inclined to issue threats to anybody just think this is going to cost me eight months in prison before I tap any more garbage."