Patterson no longer to be prosecuted

Published Friday, 20 December 2013
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A Belfast councillor accused of an offensive posting on Facebook is no longer to be prosecuted, it has been confirmed.

The charge against Ruth Patterson was withdrawn after a warning was issued to her, a judge was told on Friday.

Supporters applauded as the end of criminal proceedings was announced at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

As she left the dock Mrs Patterson was embraced by her Democratic Unionist Party colleague, Assemblyman Jonathan Bell.

Outside the court she said: "I'm absolutely delighted. Justice has been done."

Mrs Patterson, the former deputy lord mayor of Belfast, had been charged with sending a grossly offensive electronic communication.

Ultimately, with all charges being withdrawn it is hard not to conclude that Ruth’s arrest and indeed the entire investigation was nothing more than a PR stunt and a waste of resources

DUP

It related to comments linked to another Facebook user's posting about an imaginary attack on a republican parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

The 57-year-old former nurse was arrested and charged in August. She had intended to plead not guilty to the alleged offence.

Last week her lawyer applied to have the case thrown out due to the time being taken by the Public Prosecution Service to come to a decision.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall gave the PPS another seven days to reach a final position.

In court today a prosecution lawyer said: "An informed warning has been issued. The matter can be withdrawn."

Judge Bagnall then confirmed proceedings were at an end, prompting the applause from the public gallery.

A spokesperson for the DUP said: "Alderman Ruth Patterson's arrest was sensationalist with officers arriving at her place of work. She was held in custody, had her house raided and had her telephone and computer removed.

"Alderman Patterson has apologised for her remarks, accepted they were well below the standard expected of a public representative and not in keeping with the DUP's values and ethos."

© UTV News
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43 Comments
Oppressed by police state in Ulster wrote (118 days ago):
I knew she was innocent all along. End political policing in Ulster now!
realistic in planet earth wrote (122 days ago):
@sam1690 - time to do some reading, educate yourself lad.......:) and don't just stop at this incident- there's lots and lots out there to learn, about all sorts..... even back as far as 1690..........some of it may surprise you.....if you open your mind of course sam..... not everything the dup say may be strictly true......:)
Del in Derry wrote (122 days ago):
What a bigoted moron this woman is, so much for the DUP dinosaurs sharing power.
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (122 days ago):
Sorry Sam1690, you know nothing of the judicial process. An informed warning is a formal sanction on an individual in the same way as cautions or prosecutorial diversions. The suspect must have made a clear and reliable admission of the offence and there must be a realistic prospect of conviction if the offender were to be prosecuted in line with the PPS full evidential test. It is clearly defined in the PSNI's Procedure for Crime Detections (SP53/2008). A caution or an informed warning are resolutions to cases where they are deemed appropriate by the PSNI and the PPS.
Oldsod in Fermanagh wrote (122 days ago):
Sam1690 in Ballysillan and heather in ewtowabbey, did you two not read the article? Ruth Patterson received an informed warning,.... to get one of those you have to make an admission of guilt, that is an official criminal record she will be getting. If she was innocent or she refused to admit her guilt, then this sanction would not have been available. It is better than a conviction (from her perspective), but still a criminal record. I suppose that if she had an otherwise clean record, then it probably was the appropriate sanction,... as long as she and the DUP do not try and dress this up as the same thing as being "innocent". The sad thing is that this whole episode has actually given her some sort of "kudos" with the "unpleasant elements" within loyalism.
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