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Man ‘banged up’ in jail for ‘bang’ remark aimed at officer on anti-PSNI Facebook page

He left menacing message on 'RUC PSNI harassment of republicans exposed' page on Facebook

PSNI Craigavon

A man has been sentenced to two months in prison after posting a menacing message on an anti-PSNI Facebook page.

Paul McLarnon, of Ligoniel Road in Belfast, pleaded guilty to improper use of public electronic communications at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Court heard that on February 27 there were menacing posts on a Facebook page named as ‘RUC PSNI harassment of republicans exposed’.

They contained threats of violence towards a specific officer from a number of people in the UK.

McLarnon’s post referred to shooting the officer with the word “bang” included.

The defendant was identified by police and later arrested.

On March 16, McLarnon was interviewed, and admitted making the post to “show off” and branded it “stupid and foolish”.

He said the comment was “grossly offensive” and offered his apologies to the officer.

District Judge Bernie Kelly stated: “This was not childish and foolish.”

Defence barrister Conor Lunny agreed saying: “No it was serious and menacing.”

District Judge Kelly commented: “This man does not work for a living, he does not go out each day risking his life for the community.

“But he is quite happy to make the lives of those who do fearful and filled with stress.”

Mr Lunny said that McLarnon did not know the officer in question and had now deleted his Facebook account.

District Judge Kelly stated: “Everything you do online has consequences, that’s why most of us are exceptionally careful.”

The defendant’s solicitor commented that McLarnon had been “honest to a fault” with probation as he had admitted taking cannabis which had lessened his inhibitions on that night.

The district judge said: “If a person is genuinely compassionate no matter what they have taken on board they would never have written this.”

Court heard the defendant had a record but his last relevant entry for disorderly behaviour and assault on police was 15 years ago.

District Judge Kelly added: “He does not understand the impact of what he has done. He thought it was funny but that is not what it was like for the recipient.

“He can sit at home twiddling his thumbs 52 weeks a year, 365 days a year, while this taxpayer pays for his benefits and medication.”

McLarnon was sentenced to two months in prison.

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