Man fined for sectarian comments made on Facebook
Jamie Love, 20, put the words onto his social network page in the lead up to football matches in August and Sepetmber 2011.
He called Celtic midfielder Kris Commons a “dirty Fenian scum” and posted lyrics from the Billy Boys song saying “We’re up to our knees in Feinan blood. Surrender or you’ll die”.
The comments were spotted and he was reported the police.
A trial at Stirling Sheriff Court was told today that his comments caused people “disgust”.
Kim McGregor, prosecuting, said they incited “religious prejudice against Catholic people”.
The depute fiscal said: “I would submit that the lyrics ‘up to our knees in Fenian blood, Surrender or you’ll die’ could initiate violence against the Catholic community.
“The accused’s Facebook profile was accessible to all who searched for him and was in the public domain and he had no control over who could directly see it.
“I would suggest the accused’s posts were inflammatory and dangerous, and they were made in the build up to football games.
“The accused said it was meant as banter with his mates but conceded the comments were made completely out of stupidity.
“As he admitted to posting the sectarian remarks he knew they would be threatening and abusive.
“We heard from witnesses who said they found the remarks disgusting.”
Love, an apprentice stonemason, from Stirling was found guilty after a trial of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by posting the comments.
The offence was committed between August 5, 2011 and September 30 2011.
Defence agent Virgil Crawford said that his cllient’s comments had no real chance of causing fear or alarm and they would do little more than “upset people.”
He compared the comments to those made by Paul Chambers, who tweeted a joke that he was going to “blow up” Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire.
Chambers was convicted of sending a menacing message, but his conviction was later overturned by appeal.
Mr Crawford said: “The comments don’t amount to threatening or abusive behaviour. Someone being offended does not constitute alarm.
“Comments made even to deliberately upset someone do not fall within the section, which limits this offence to fear and alarm.
“There was no evidence these comments caused fear and alarm and the lyrics were clearly those of long-established football songs.
“In Chambers, the threat to blow up an airport was much more threatening and there was a much greater chance that would cause fear and alarm.
“Here there was no genuine threat, no genuine fear and no genuine alarm, these were ill judged comments but not illegal.”
However, Sheriff Mark Thorley disagreed, and fined Love £250.
He said: “Having considered the matter I find the charge proved. I will impose a monetary penalty.
“I accept this was on one view a matter of stupidity.”