Glasgow & West Scotland

David Craig jailed over Neil Lennon abuse on Facebook

David Craig
Image caption David Craig claimed the abusive messages were only "banter"

A man who admitted posting a picture of Neil Lennon covered in bullet wounds on a social networking site has been jailed for 14 months.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court, David Craig, 24, was also banned from all football grounds in the UK for three years.

Craig posted abuse about the Celtic manager and Rangers slogans on his Facebook page after the so-called Old Firm "shame game" in March 2011.

Sheriff Martin Jones told Craig that his actions were "vile and hateful."

Craig, from Paisley, moved to Northern Ireland after receiving death threats.

Hostile atmosphere

His trial had been shown a photograph he copied onto his Facebook page, of Mr Lennon wearing a Celtic top and with several bullet wounds on his torso and one on the centre of his head.

On the front of his body were the words "Dead man walking" and underneath was a caption reading: "Neil Lennon dead man!!!!!! UVF1".

Sentencing Craig, Sheriff Jones called his actions "hateful". He added: "There is no place for them in an enlightened society. This sort of thing leads to more of the same."

The sheriff said that Craig's posting came amidst escalating sectarian hostility after an Old Firm match.

He added: "You placed an image and comments which continued to fuel that atmosphere. Access to your site was fully available to the public."

Sheriff Jones added that the bullet-riddled picture of Lennon, a Catholic from Northern Ireland, prompted responses from others.

The sheriff said Craig's behaviour was "unacceptable" and needed to be marked with a jail sentence.

Craig has already spent nine months in jail on remand, so the sentence means he will will serve a further five months in prison.

Advocate Duncan McPhie, defending, said: "Sectarianism casts a shadow over Glasgow now it seems to have caused a shadow over the life of David Craig."

At an earlier appearance at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Craig admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner likely to cause fear and alarm by posting images and messages of an offensive, threatening and sectarian nature.

Supt David Brand, head of the Football Coordination Unit Scotland, said: "On the day that the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 has come into force, this sends a strong warning to others who might think about posting such vile, abusive and threatening comments on Facebook, Twitter or indeed any other online site."

He said he was encouraged by the response from members of the public and media who report this kind of behaviour.

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