Belfast Facebook gunman escapes prison sentence


A north Belfast man living under loyalist paramilitary threats yesterday escaped a prison sentence after he posted pictures of himself on Facebook dressed in camouflage gear and armed with an imitation handgun.

Michael Gibson, 23, of Blackwood Street, south Belfast, was warned by a judge that if he didn’t address his addiction problems through probation he would go to jail for 18 months.

Gibson pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation, namely a semi-automatic blank firing handgun.

Prosecution lawyer Rosemary Walsh told Belfast Crown Court that police were alerted on February 24, 2013 that Gibson had posted pictures of himself on Facebook armed with a gun.

The court heard that the pictures showed him dressed in camouflage gear and holding the black handgun.

Gibson told police that he had been “acting the big lad” when he had put the pictures on Facebook.

He also said that he had been in trouble with loyalist paramilitaries and was on the phone to the UDA when the officers arrived at a friend’s house in north Belfast.

The court heard that Gibson had been living under threat from loyalist paramilitaries for around eight years.