A Belfast man who phoned a Muslim to say he was going to be killed in the wake of the New Zealand terrorist massacre has been jailed for four months.
Billy Dean, 50, was told he had committed an “appalling” offence by contacting the victim in England a day after the shootings at two mosques which claimed the lives of 51 people.
Dean, of Ebor Street in the city, was convicted of improper use of communications to cause anxiety.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard he made the call on March 16 this year after obtaining the victim’s number on a Facebook page for a mosque in Birmingham.
Prosecutors said he phoned the man and stated: “You will die today you stupid Muslim, you will be killed.”
West Midlands Police were alerted and traced the number to Dean.
When officers went to the defendant’s home days later and made a call to that number his phone started to ring.
Dean was arrested and claimed he did not remember anything about the incident because he had been drinking, the court heard.
He told police that he had been agitated for the previous couple of weeks.
A Crown lawyer confirmed that the victim is attached to a mosque in Birmingham.
“This phone call was made the day after the incident in New Zealand; the injured party reported that they were concerned for their family,” she said.
On March 15 this year a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch in a rampage live-streamed on Facebook.
Another 49 people were wounded in the attacks.
Dean’s barrister stressed he was at home in Belfast when he made the call and had not attempted to conceal his own number.
“He accepts that he does have anger management problems and that if somebody doesn’t agree with his views he can, to put it bluntly, fly off the handle,” counsel said.
“He accepts that he made this phone call because of what he saw on television in New Zealand at the time.”
Highlighting the context of Dean’s actions, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said: “The timing of it aggravates it even further from just the content, which is appalling in itself.
“There will be four months immediate custody.”
Dean was then released on bail pending an appeal against the prison term imposed.