Man threatened assassination of Nicola Sturgeon and abducted sheriff

William Curtis, 70, sent threatening messages to the First Minister on various occasions between February 27 and March 6, 2019.

William Curtis threatened assassination of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and abducted sheriff STV News

A man has been found guilty of making a social media post threatening the assassination of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

William Curtis, 70, sent threatening messages to Sturgeon on various occasions between February 27 and March 6 2019.

Curtis was also found guilty of sending or causing a threatening message to be sent to former MSP Stewart Stevenson on March 9 2019.

Jurors at the High Court in Glasgow also ruled that Curtis and another man, Philip Mitchell, 60, assaulted and abducted a sheriff in a car park in Banff, Aberdeenshire, in June 2021.

Mitchell claimed he was performing a citizen’s arrest on Sheriff Robert McDonald and had lawful authority to do so but, Lord Weir, in his direction to the jury, said there was nothing supporting this on an evidential basis.

The jury began deliberating at about midday on Thursday before reaching a verdict at 12.40pm on Friday.

During the trial, advocate depute Chris McKenna read out a Facebook post from an account in the name of “William Patrick Curtis” that was flagged to Sturgeon’s office manager John Skinner on March 6, 2019.

It read: “We have reason to believe while it is my intention to citizens (sic) arrest her (Sturgeon) to answer her treason, over the last three years, serious people who reel the abuse to the electorate by her criminal activities warrants assassination of her and sevreal (sic) of her ministers, on down to even civilians who work in all agenices (sic) who have repeatedly lied to the electorate and conspired with the First Minister.”

Curtis’s former partner, Alyson Gould, confirmed to the court earlier in the trial that he had a Facebook account in the name of the aforementioned social media profile.

And the jury heard from Mr Skinner, who when asked what was made of the phrase “warrant assassination of her”, replied: “To murder the First Minister.”

The message to Stevenson threatened him and contained a link to a video relating to the murder of MP Jo Cox, the court heard.

The court previously heard a direct message was sent on Facebook to Stevenson from a person called “Carole Curtis” which read: “Your turn is comming (sic) of that you can be sure.”

Curtis had lodged a special defence of incrimination, claiming someone else committed the offence against Stevenson, but this was rejected by jurors.

Jurors also found Curtis guilty of a fourth charge of behaving in a “threatening or abusive manner which was likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm” by posting “messages of a threatening and abusive nature” in October 2020.

A charge that he also did so in June 2021 was withdrawn by the Crown and he was acquitted of that allegation.

All of the offences occurred in Aberdeenshire.

Both men will be sentenced on March 3 2023 at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Weir confirmed.

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