Published Friday, 13 April 2012
The court was told that one of Boyd's posts said: "Kill all taigs." (© UTV)
A PSNI investigation was launched into the online remarks, which included death threats against Catholics and prompted further messages by others believed to have been directed at Sinn Féin's Daithi McKay.
Dean Boyd, 21 and from Skye Park in the Co Antrim town and 20-year-old Matthew McKenna, from Lisnahilt Road in Broughshane, both pleaded guilty to sending grossly offensive or indecent messages.
One post by Boyd read: "Kill all taigs", while McKenna added: "Let's show the scum in Rasharkin how it is done. God save the Queen. For God and Ulster, Kill all Taigs. Lest we forget."
The court had heard that Boyd had been drinking to celebrate his 21st birthday when he posted the comments and that, having intended them only for his friends rather than to stir up hatred, he had quickly removed them.
He also expressed remorse in court.
It is comments like this that excite and exacerbate any tensions within this community and we can well do without it.
Judge Richard Wilson
"He runs in mixed circles and his friends heard of this and he suffered quite a deal of appropriate opprobrium for what he has done," his defence solicitor said.
Presiding over the case at Coleraine Magistrates' Court on Friday, district judge Richard Wilson condemned what he branded "rabble-rousing" comments.
He fined Boyd - an unemployed father-of-one whose partner is Catholic - £250.
"I hope you realise how inappropriate and stupid your comments are," Judge Wilson said.
Fining McKenna £400, the judge added: "These stupid, rabble-rousing sentiments are better left unsaid and your mouth zipped."
The prosecution over a social networking offence is understood to be one of the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Speaking about the convictions, Daithí McKay said any such comments needed to be taken seriously.
"No-one would get away with making such comments in the street and it's important that a message is sent out that sectarian comments and threats such as this are not acceptable and in this instance can inflame tensions," the North Antrim MLA said.
"Sectarianism is a scourge on this society and all sectarian death threats that are made in any context need to be taken seriously."