Northern Ireland news

Man who subjected business owner to racist abuse given jail sentence

Craigavon Magistrates Court heard that in a dispute over the storage of furniture and whether it had been damaged, Gary Donaldson (46) sent the business owner several messages

A MAN who subjected a business owner to racist harassment has been jailed for three months.

Craigavon Magistrates Court heard that in a dispute over the storage of furniture and whether it had been damaged, Gary Donaldson (46) sent the business owner several messages by text and social media on August 27 last year.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court that the series of messages left the victim feeling distressed.

She submitted the offences Donaldson had pleaded guilty to, harassment and improper use of a telecommunication network to send an offensive message, were aggravated “by reason of racial hatred".

Defence solicitor Joe McDonald conceded that while Donaldson’s behaviour was “completely unacceptable” and he had “gone too far,” the messages were sent while he was under the influence of alcohol, adding that he was “embarrassed and ashamed of what he has done".

He told District Judge Bernie Kelly that although it has not yet been sent, Donaldson had written out a letter of apology for the victim.

"Racism cannot be tolerated in any right thinking society, and it has to be marked out as something that will not be tolerated," the judge said.

She told Donaldson, from Twinem Court in Portadown and who appeared by videolink from Mr McDonald’s offices, “there is no excuse for this behaviour” because even if he had been drinking alcohol “that doesn’t turn you from being non-racist to racist".

Imposing a two year restraining order, DJ Kelly said in her view the case was so serious that it called for a jail sentence so she handed Donaldson a three month sentence and ordering him to surrender himself to custody at the courthouse.

Following an application from Mr McDonald however, Donaldson was granted bail pending an appeal.

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