A military veteran has been found guilty of sending a menacing Tweet suggesting MSP James Dornan should be assassinated.
Former soldier Andrew Brews, who served in Northern Ireland, said Mr Dornan was “another dirty little Nationalist rat” who “deserves one behind the ear.”
Brews, a private residential landlord, admitted the phrase was one used during the Troubles to refer to a method of assassination.
He said he had posted the message on a Twitter thread after seeing a picture of the MSP posing in front of a flag linked to a proscribed terrorist organisation.
Brews told Dundee Sheriff Court posting the image had been a “knee-jerk reaction” to seeing a taxpayer-funded politician smiling in front of an Irish Republican Army flag.
Mr Dornan, who was sent the Tweet by supporters, told the trial he had been particularly concerned by the language and phraseology used.
Brews had written: “As I have told him, if he thinks standing posing and smiling in front of a flag belonging to a Republican proscribed organisation isn’t sectarian then he’s deluded.
“Just another dirty little Nationalist rat, deserves one behind the ear.”
MSP felt threatened
Sheriff Alison Michie said: “Mr Dornan said he receives Tweets like this but nothing as concerning as this particular Tweet.
“He was clear what he took it to mean and perceived that to be a threat and something that could encourage others.
“The accused has indicated it is an old military saying and conceded he considers it to mean shooting somebody.
“I do consider the Tweet does meet the criminal standard and is menacing in character. I accept it was a knee-jerk reaction.
“The political background is not a consideration for the court.
“You have accepted from the outset that you sent the Tweet in question and that it was placed on a public forum where anyone could see it.
“You have indicated it was simply a throwaway remark to some extent.
“I am sure you can appreciate the degree of anxiety and concern such remarks cause.”
Sectarianism claims by accused
Brews, 59, from Leuchars, was found guilty of sending messages to James Dornan on February 26, 2019 that were grossly offensive, or indecent, obscene or of menacing character, in that it suggested he be shot.
Fiscal depute Gavin Burton said: “The evidence of Mr Dornan was that he saw the Tweet and he expressed concern about his staff and his family.
“The evidence of Mr Dornan was that he was involved in combatting sectarianism in Scottish society and he described the comment of ‘one behind the ear’ as being an assassination type method used in Northern Ireland.”
Brews said: “If I was believed to be a serious threat to anybody, why did it take the police eight months to come and charge me?
“The whole thing was around Mr Dornan’s perceived sectarianism.
“Seeing that picture made me very angry that someone in the pay of the public was clearly supporting a terrorist organisation that has killed members of that public.
“I am an ex-soldier. I have been troubled by my past experiences, especially in Northern Ireland.
“I have been on medication for 30 years and undergone counselling – all to do with incidents I took part in.”
‘Glasgow hard man’
He continued: “I have no interest in Rangers or Celtic.
“His supporters simply cherry-picked the comment and highlighted it to him.
“The Pope could have read it, the Queen could have read it.
“It was not sent to him. It was about him because the picture was about him.
“Mr Dornan sees himself as a tough Glasgow hard man who is affected by nothing.
“All of a sudden he is affected by this message that wasn’t even sent to him.”
Sheriff Michie heard Brews had no previous convictions and had stopped using Twitter since his arrest.
She fined him £400.
Outside court, Brews described the prosecution as “a stitch-up” and said he was considering an appeal.