'suspicions' | 

Man accused of threatening Northern Ireland Health Minister makes 'fake lawyer’ claim

William Herbert Hawkes told Newtownards Magistrates Court that he had suspicions the solicitor was not in fact a solicitor

Health Minister Robin Swann speaks to media outside the Department of Health at Stormont, where he said that a major plan mapping out how hospital services will be delivered across Northern Ireland in the future is to be published in the autumn. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story ULSTER Health. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire© PA

Paul HigginsSunday World

The man accused of threatening Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has dispensed with his legal team, believing a fake lawyer represented him at a hearing.

William Herbert Hawkes told Newtownards Magistrates Court that having been represented by Karl McKenna, a solicitor working for the firm Brentnall Legal Ltd, he had suspicions the solicitor was not in fact a solicitor.

The 45-year-old said he was suspicious to begin with but having been told Mr McKenna graduated from Queens University in 2013, he checked the list of graduates in the local press and found “there was no one of that name who graduated on that date.”

Hawkes, who has previous convictions for threatening Mr Swann on other occasions, said he had found “an old LinkedIn profile” for Mr McKenna “but the photo didn’t match the Karl McKenna who represented me that day.”

He began to outline background character checks he carried out when Michael Brentnall, the leading partner in the firm, interjected to assure the court that “Mr McKenna is a fully accredited solicitor with the law society and with our firm.”

“Oh there’s no criticism of Brentnall Legal,” said District Judge Mark Hamill, telling Hawkes “there’s any amount of solicitors out there” who could take on his case.

Hawkes lamented that while he had contacted many of them, “a lot of people don’t want anything to do with it.”

Hawkes, from Ardmillan Crescent in Ards, faces charges across two bills of indictment, all of them directed at the health minister.

The north Down man faces two counts of making a threat to kill Mr Swann and one charge of sending menacing tweets to the health minister on 15 November last year while on a second set of charges, alleged to have been committed on 22 and 23 January this year, Hawkes faces four counts of making a threat to kill and one of sending an offensive or menacing message.

Previous courts have heard claims that Hawkes sent a number of tweets where he labelled the UUP MLA as a “monster, a liar and a killer”.

“He is deliberately killing elderly people,” Hawkes is alleged to have tweeted, “Robin Swann is a killer.”

“I will kill him. As long as he poses a danger to my parents, I will be a danger to him. He is a liar and a dirty b******.

“I will cut off the little c**** head.”

" Never in my life have I ever had such an overwhelming desire to kill an individual,” revealed a police officer on an earlier occasion.

In the November case, Hawkes is alleged to have tweeted threats where he labelled the health minister as “corrupt,” a “deadly b******” and asked him to “explain his master plan.”

He also allegedly threatened that “I would like to kill the NI Health Minister,” claiming that he has a car and is going to “pay him a visit.”

At the time, Hawkes was under probation supervision from previous, similar offences also relating to Mr Swann who is set to testify about the messages he received in the latest batch of offences.

In court on Tuesday, DJ Hamill told Hawkes his suspicions “are of absolutely no interest to this court - that’s a matter for the law society.”

“I suspect there’s no substance to your misgivings but that’s for you to pursue parallel to these proceedings,” said the judge as he adjourned the case to 29 November.

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