Behind the ire curtain Right-wing mouthpiece jailed for threat to journalist Owen Jones loses voice
"When we are in charge all you liberals and traitors and fake news journalists will be first up against the wall"
A foul-mouthed far-right thug who told a well-known journalist he deserved “a bullet in the brain” went all camera-shy when we called at his door.
Ryan McKillop was jailed this week for three months for sending a shocking social media message to Guardian columnist and author Owen Jones.
Ballymena Magistrates Court heard in the message, McKillop claimed to be “a supporter of the far-right, speaking for a lot of people” and the journalist would hopefully be “getting a bullet in the brain”.
He stated: “The far-right is taking over all of Europe slowly but surely. The numbers don’t lie. When we are in charge all you liberals and traitors and fake news journalists will be first up against the wall. You just wait and see.”
He was sent to prison by the judge who said he needed to send a “deterrent” for such intimidatory behaviour.
But the snooker-loopy loon was released on bail to his Larne home while he appealed his sentence.
On Friday his appeal was heard where his lawyer claimed he himself had received hundreds of death threats and claimed McKillop was an “armchair warrior”.
He’ll find out tomorrow if his appeal to avoid jail was successful.
This week we called at McKillop’s house to ask what made him think his message was acceptable.
But after eventually getting the 41-year-old out of bed – just after midday – he came to the door half-dressed and was less than keen to chat to a journalist.
Poking his head from the side of his front door, camera-shy McKillop asked what we wanted, in less than friendly terms.
And his mood worsened when we showed the right-wing activist our press card and asked if he wanted to explain his actions in connection with the court case.
He snapped “No, f**k off,” before slamming the door shut.
Owen Jones is a high-profile left-wing journalist who recently published a book This Land and has long championed the rights of ethnic minorities and campaigned against fascism.
He was also an ardent opponent of Brexit and it’s understood it was this belief that got McKillop’s knickers in a twist.
McKillop admitted improper use of a communications network by sending the message on September 1 2019.
Police were alerted and tracked the Instagram account to McKillop who told police he didn’t believe the message to be threatening or menacing.
Instead he claimed it was sent in a state of anger because the journalist called for the Brexit vote to be overturned, believing this amounted to treason.
A defence solicitor said: “The only way to describe this behaviour is a crime of political passion gone wrong. We are acutely aware of the responsibilities of using social media and what is expected of people wishing to post comments. It has to be done in line with a civil society.”
She said McKillop was remorseful and understands how his comments were construed as menacing.
“He wishes the court to be aware the offence took place at the time the Brexit deal was going through parliament and can only excuse his behaviour as emotions running high.”
She added that McKillop accepted his behaviour had “exceeded what was reasonable.”
She said he had “learnt his lesson” and said a pre-sentence report showed the defendant now had an insight into how his message “came across to” the victim.
The lawyer said the defendant was unemployed but “on the cusp” of attempting to open a taxi business.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told McKillop: “The court takes a very dim view of this behaviour. We live in a civil society and freedom of the press is to be cherished and not attacked by individuals in any shape or fashion.
“In the modern world those with access to social media feel somewhat immune from the laws of the land. There must be a deterrent element to those who so blatantly challenge journalists, who are doing nothing else than representing the news to society.”
The judge said having carefully considered the case, he held the custody threshold was passed, “given the serious nature of the charge and the need for deterrent”.
McKillop was jailed for three months but released to appeal the sentence.
It’s not the first-time McKillop had tried to intimidate people.
Four years ago he was convicted of making threats to damage property, criminal damage and harassment.
The cowardly thug had thrown a brick through the window of a man and had attached a menacing threat to it.
But the dopey bully was caught after it emerged he’d actually written the threat and a hand-writing expert was able to prove he had been behind the disturbing attack.
During that hearing a lawyer said McKillop’s difficulties with alcohol had brought him to the courts.
Binding McKillop over on a sum of £500 to keep the peace, District Judge Peter King also ordered him to have no contact with the injured party or any property owned or occupied by the man.
Last week, Owen Jones came under attack from right-wing supporters who accused him of hypocrisy for reporting McKillop to the police.
However, he was quick to point out he hadn’t made any complaint to the PSNI.
He posted on Twitter: “This isn’t true. I didn’t report the incident to the police. I posted a screenshot of the message on Twitter and somebody else contacted Northern Ireland’s police force.”
And he also posted his view that he didn’t think prison was the right sentence for the Larne thug.
“A self-described far right extremist has just been imprisoned in Northern Ireland for three months for sending me a threatening message about ‘getting a bullet in the brain’. To be honest, I don’t think prison is any solution for this whatsoever.”