ON­LINE TROLLS Send­ing threats to the judge? You re­ally think this helps? Just stop it you mo­rons...

Man found guilty of hate crime hopes po­lice ar­rest ‘id­iots’ af­ter they aim tirade of abuse at sher­iff

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Ian Bunt­ing

The Co a t b r i d g e man who filmed his girl­friend’s pet dog giv­ing a Nazi salute has slammed on­line trolls who is­sued death threats to the sher­iff who con­victed him.

Mark Meechan, 30, was found guilty of a hate crime by law­man Derek O’Car­roll at Air­drie Sher­iff Court last month.

In the af­ter­math of the ver­dict Sher­iff O’Car­roll was said to be “shocked and alarmed” by an avalanche of on­line abuse – which cul­mi­nated in some­one say­ing he should be “ex­ter­mi­nated” – for find­ing Meechan guilty.

Meechan – who him­self re­ceived death threats when his controversial video went vi­ral two years ago – branded Sher­iff O’Car­roll’s abusers “f****** id­iots” and urged po­lice to ar­rest them.

He tweeted: “Send­ing death threats to the judge. Are you f****** se­ri­ous?

“You re­ally think this helps? Don’t be so f****** stupid, think be­fore you act like an ut­ter mo­ron. Stop it.

“I’m p***** off. What kind of mouth breather thought this was a good idea or funny?

“You bet­ter hope the cops find you first.”

Sher­iff Derek O’Car­roll, who reg­u­larly pre­sides over cases at Air­drie Sher­iff Court, con­victed Meechan af­ter he recorded pug Bud­dha re­spond­ing to state­ments such as “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil” by rais­ing its paw dur­ing the footage called “M8 Yur Dug’s a Nazi”.

The controversial clip – up­loaded in April 2016 – has re­ceived mil­lions of views and fol­low­ing com­plaints about the con­tent, po­lice were called in and Meechan was ar­rested.

He de­nied any wrong­do­ing dur­ing his trial and claimed he made the video to an­noy his girl­friend, Suzanne Kelly, 29.

But Sher­iff O’Car­roll found him guilty of a charge un­der the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act that he posted a video on so­cial me­dia and YouTube which was grossly of­fen­sive be­cause it was “anti-semitic and racist in na­ture” and was ag­gra­vated by re­li­gious prej­u­dice.

The sher­iff told Meechan: “In my view it is a rea­son­able con­clu­sion that the video is grossly of­fen­sive.

“The de­scrip­tion of the video as hu­mor­ous is no magic wand.

“This court has taken the free­dom of ex­pres­sion into con­sid­er­a­tion. But the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion also comes with re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“The ac­cused is quite ob­vi­ously an in­tel­li­gent and ar­tic­u­late man.

“The ac­cused knew that the ma­te­rial was of­fen­sive and knew why it was of­fen­sive. De­spite that the ac­cused made a video con­tain­ing anti- Semitic con­tent and he would have known it was grossly of­fen­sive to many Jewish peo­ple.”

Po­lice are now in­ves­ti­gat­ing a se­ries of dis­turb­ing on­line threats made against the sher­iff in the wake of his ver­dict, with one per­son writ­ing, “Ex­ter­mi­nate this piece of s***” un­der a photo of the law­man.

Other sick com­ments in­cluded, “Sher­iff Derek O’Car­roll is pure evil”, “dumb id­iot who ac­tu­ally needs to be pun­ished se­verely for his crime against free­dom” and “f*** this stupid guy”.

Re­ports re­vealed that court staff were con­tacted 40 times by 32 dif­fer­ent peo­ple p within days of Sher­iff O’Car­roll’s ver­dict fol­low­ing an ap­peal from Twit­ter users en­cour­ag­ing com­plaints.

A Ju­di­cial Of­fice for Scot­land spokesman has con­firmed they are “aware of some of the com­ments di­rected at Sher­iff O’Car­roll” and that “cer­tain mes­sages” have been re­ported to the po­lice.

A po­lice spokes­woman added: “We re­ceived a re­port of an of­fen­sive com­ment made on so­cial me­dia. En­quiries are on­go­ing.”

Meechan will re­turn for sen­tenc­ing on April 23 and speak­ing out­side court af­ter the ver­dict, the stunned first of­fender, said: “We are go­ing to ap­peal. There has been a mis­car­riage of jus­tice.

“I think it is a very dark day in re­gards to free­dom of speech and free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

“The thing that was most wor­ry­ing is that one of the pri­mary things that has to be con­sid­ered is things like con­text and in­tent and that was com­pletely dis­re­garded.

“For any co­me­di­ans in Bri­tain, be very, very wor­ried about mak­ing jokes in fu­ture be­cause the con­text and in­tent be­hind them ap­par­ently don’t mat­ter any more.”

Both co­me­dian and ac­tor Ricky Ger­vais and for­mer English De­fence League leader Tommy Robin­son, the lat­ter attending court in sup­port of Meechan, have backed Meechan – and slammed his con­vic­tion.

Ger­vais tweeted af­ter the ver­dict: “A man has been con­victed in a UK court of mak­ing a joke that was deemed ‘grossly of­fen­sive’.

“If you don’t be­lieve in a per­son’s right to say things that you might find ‘grossly of­fen­sive’, then you don’t be­lieve in Free­dom of Speech.

“I f***ing hate re­li­gion. I’ve crit­i­cised and ridiculed it for 40 years. Yet if my gov­ern­ment tried to ban it or crim­i­nalise it, I would march along­side those poor fools and fight hard for their right to be­lieve any f***ing stupid non­sense they chose.”

Robin­son added: “This is the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, this is the gov­ern­ment, this is the po­lice crack­ing down and si­lenc­ing free speech on peo­ple who are not even al­lowed to tell jokes.

“As we’re in Scot­land, Frankie Boyle has al­ways said far worse.”

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