‘Social media can be used as weapon’

08/03/2009 PA File Photo of the logo of social networking website Facebook seen reflected in a person's eye. See PA Feature INTERNET Facebook Guidelines. Picture credit should read: 'Dominic Lipinski/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature INTERNET Facebook Guidelines.
08/03/2009 PA File Photo of the logo of social networking website Facebook seen reflected in a person's eye. See PA Feature INTERNET Facebook Guidelines. Picture credit should read: 'Dominic Lipinski/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature INTERNET Facebook Guidelines.

SOCIAL media can be used as a “weapon” and the courts often see the “dark side” of Facebook, and Twitter, a judge has said.

He was speaking at Coleraine Magistrates Court where Liam Jack (42), of Old Mill Grange, Portstewart, pleaded guilty to persistently using a public electronic communications to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety between April 8-11 last year.

The mother of Jack’s former partner received four Facebook messages and then phoned her the following morning. She contacted police who told Jack it would be seen as harassment if he continued to contact the woman but later that day he sent another Facebook message. The woman contacted police again and while officers were with her Jack phoned again and police spoke to him on the phone. A defence lawyer said there had been an “unhappy break-up” and following alleged incidents he had contacted his former partner’s mother.

District Judge Des Perry said: “We in the courts see the dark side of such sites like Facebook and Twitter where they can be used very much as weapons”.

He told Jack he had caused the woman “grief” as he handed down a two years conditional discharge.

Other cases from the same court:

*A MAN banned from the road for ‘life’ has allegedly been back behind the wheel whilst on bail from the Crown Court. Patrick Morgan (41), of Ballylintagh Road, Aghadowey, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court charged with driving whilst disqualified; driving with excess alcohol and absence of insurance at Cramsie Court, Ballymoney, on January 11 this year. The court was told Morgan has a large number of previous driving whilst disqualified offences. A police officer believed she could connect him to the charges and opposed bail.

A defence barrister said there is another alleged driving while disqualified case pending and said although his client had 52 similar convictions if bail was given it could include a prohibition from any vehicle apart from being a fare-paying passenger. District Judge Des Perry said the court cannot tolerate its orders being completely ignored time after time and said there was a “certainty” of further offending. Morgan was remanded in custody and the case was adjourned to February.

*A MAN, said by his lawyer to have “money management issues”, has been jailed for a month for the theft of food including Pot Noodles from a filling station in Portrush. Sonny Balmer (19), of Mark Street, Portrush, stole items worth £15.31 on October 11 last year. His lawyer said his client “grew up in care” and has issues managing money.