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Courtney bailed over McCord threat claim

Published 11/12/2013

Allison Morris

A LEADING loyalist was bailed yesterday on a charge of making a threat to kill victims campaigner Raymond McCord.

William 'Mo' Courtney is also accused of harassing Tracey Coulter, daughter of murdered UDA leader Jackie Coulter.

Courtney was arrested on Monday following an alleged altercation at Peter's Hill in the lower Shankill area of Belfast and held overnight in Musgrave police station before appearing at the city's magistrates court yesterday.

The 50-year-old, dressed in a checked shirt and navy track top, nodded to two supporters in the public gallery as he heard the details of the allegations levelled against him.

A police constable told Magistrate Fiona Bagnall that Courtney had been walking in the Millfield area at Peter's Hill when he passed a car in which both Ms Coulter and Mr McCord were travelling.

The court heard claims that he directed an offensive remark and hand gesture at Ms Coulter.

Mr McCord got out of the car to remonstrate with him at which stage an alleged threat to his life was made.

Police objected to bail on the grounds of possible interference and further offences against Ms Coulter, who lives around a mile away on the Shankill.

Defence lawyer Steven Keown said both charges were strenuously denied and the harassment charge was based on a threatening voicemail left on Ms Coulter's phone four months ago, which she claims came from Courtney.

He said his client denied making the call and had offered police his phone to examine to carry out voice analysis.

Mr Keown argued that the latest alleged incident on its own was not enough to sustain a charge of conducting a course of harassment.

"The height of the allegation is that this man called this lady a w***** and made a gesture to that effect," he said.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall said solely on evidence directly linked to the case, she was granting bail.

However, she imposed an exclusion zone around Ms Coulter's home, which Courtney - of Fern-hill Heights in Belfast - cannot enter except for transport on roads around the boundaries.

He is also banned from having any contact with Ms Coulter or Mr McCord, whose son Raymond junior was murdered by the UVF in 1997.

Courtney, who must report to police at Grosvenor Road station three times a week, was released on £500 bail to appear again on January 7.