A WOMAN has been granted an absolute discharge after posting menacing messages on Facebook – with a sheriff accepting they were written “in the heat of the moment”.
Claudia Walter or Karl, 54, was found guilty of posting the “menacing” messages online, but Sheriff William Summers took the unusual step of granting her an absolute discharge without proceeding to conviction.
That means that the offence will not go on the social worker’s record and she will not receive any punishment.
Karl took to Facebook in the midst of the Brexit controversy and made three posts on September 2 last year.
One post read: “Boris, I promise you today, before you get the chance to deport me, you will be dead.”
Defence agent Liam Mcallister argued there was no case to answer and said the posts fell within “freedom of expression and freedom to say things that may be offensive or may be perceived to be offensive”.
He added: “That is all of our right. We’re all entitled to be offensive. It’s not criminal to be offensive.”
Fiscal depute Christy Ward, referring to the freedom of expression argument, submitted that parliament’s intention with the act which Karl was charged under was to “stop the abuse of that in terms of using a public electronic communications network to be able to just say whatever you want”.
Sheriff Summers, addressing Mr Mcallister’s argument, said: “I don’t accept that. It’s not open to the accused to post messages that are menacing in this way. That’s a clear contradiction to the terms of the legislation.”
He found Karl, of Schivas, Ythanbank, Aberdeenshire, guilty of posting a message of “menacing character”, deleting references to it being indecent, obscene and “perceived as a threat”.
Mr Mcallister said the implications of the case for Karl, a German national, had been “life shattering”, with her suspended from her work as a social worker, and he added: “She has received vitriolic abuse through various means.”
Sheriff Summers said: “At the time these posts were made, the country was in turmoil.
“I accept you posted these messages in the heat of the moment, and I accept that was because of fear about your immigration status and what the future held.”
He granted her an absolute discharge.