A Portadown teenager who sent threatening Snapchat messages – including one of a firearm with the comment “I’ll put one in your head” – has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Sentencing the 18-year-old, the district judge commented: “This is a very difficult sentencing exercise. It is a very serious matter to send pictures of guns with the caption of a bullet in the head, particularly in a Northern Ireland context.”
Stefan Sedtke, of Tandragee Road, appeared for sentencing on threats to kill, threats to damage property and improper use of public electronic communications at Craigavon Magistrates’ on Friday, via videolink from his solicitor’s office.
Prosecution outlined that on April 12, of this year, police spoke to the injured party who claimed that they had received threatening messages via Snapchat from the defendant in the early hours of April 10.
In one, Sedtke had stated: “F up before I burn you out of your gaff.”
A second Snapchat, showed a video of a suspected firearm being cocked whilst another appeared to be on a table with the message: “I’ll put one in your head.”
The defendant was arrested and conveyed to custody, where he made full admissions to sending the messages during interview.
Upon reading the presentence report, District Judge Bernie Kelly commented: “Why, if he doesn’t understand language, does he have a phone?
“I understand the calls of please don’t send him to prison as the environment would be difficult for him to cope with, but if he has that level of lack of understanding, why does he have access to the internet?”
Defence barrister Kevin O’Hare stated that he was not making the point that his client did not understand language, adding that he “knew he was sending a threat”.
District Judge Kelly then commented: “It is as well that this person did not know him, given what he has on his record in relation to the burning out threat.”
Mr O’Hare qualified that the arson entry on Sedtke’s record related to the setting alight of a toaster at a care facility and “could not be associated with the same sort of malice”.
District Judge Kelly stated: “This is a very difficult sentencing exercise. It is a very serious matter to send pictures of guns with the caption of a bullet in the head, particularly in a Northern Ireland context.”
Mr O’Hare commented that the defendant would not have fully understood that context but appeared for just the second time in the adult court, although he had been a “frequent attender” at the youth court.
Addressing the defendant, District Judge Kelly stated: “These are very serious offences in which you issued threats to someone..you have had umpteen young conference orders in the past, you have had umpteen youth diversions in the past, none of these punishments have made you behave yourself.”
Sedtke was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years.