Armagh teenager charged with making social media death threats to New Zealand PM

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By Donal McMahon

An Armagh teenager has been charged with making social media death threats to the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

Matthew Burns (19) of Dundalk Road, Newtownhamilton wearing a blue shirt and glasses appeared before Newry Magistrates Court on Friday.

A PSNI detective Constable from the crime cyber unit  said he could connect the accused to the charges. 

The accused’s parents and sister attended the court. 

As the charges were read out the mother held her hand to her head and closed her eyes. 

Ms Ardern recently touched hearts of the New Zealand people when speaking out after a mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

A Twitter message to the prime minster was said to have been  made directly after the terrorist attack.

The court heard that a photo of a gun silencer was sent with the message “you’re next”.

The defendant was further charged with making similar threats to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The accused was arrested on April 11 and taken to Banbridge PSNI station for questioning. 

Two dates of offending are said to have taken place on Twitter and Facebook in December 2018 and March 20, 2019.

During interview Mr Burns states he had far right political leanings and had negative sentiments towards minorities, Muslims and the LGBTQ community. Volumes of similar posts towards minorities was said to be under investigation by the PSNI cyber unit. 

An application was made to restrict reporting due to the defendant’s believed poor mental health and attempts at self harm indicating a suicidal nature. 

District judge McGarrity rejected the application due to a lack of medical evidence before the courts. 

The defendant was released on £500 bail to his parents custody with a £1000 cash surety with the condition that he has no internet connection and adheres to a curfew. 

The magistrate warned Mr Burns: “The police are going to be watching you...next time the courts may not be so sympathic as today.”  
The case was adjourned to May 8. 

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