A well-known loyalist convicted of threatening to kill victims campaigner Raymond McCord has been given a three-month suspended jail sentence.
William ‘Mo’ Courtney was told he would have gone straight to prison if the offence had been committed after he was dealt with for a separate assault.
Fifty-year-old Courtney denied any encounter with Mr McCord at a traffic junction in Belfast last December.
The victim has been an outspoken critic of loyalist terror groups ever since the paramilitary murder of his son Raymond Jr in 1997.
At the time of the incident Mr McCord was travelling in a car with Tracey Coulter, whose father Jackie was killed during a loyalist feud in 2000.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard that as their vehicle stopped at lights in the Peters Hill area, Courtney walked past, recognised the pair and made rude gestures.
It was alleged that Mr McCord then got out of the car and challenged the Courtney.
Weeks earlier the defendant, of Fernhill Heights, Belfast, had been found guilty of head-butting Ms Coulter during a confrontation over drugs.
However, a four-month suspended prison sentence for that assault was only imposed after the traffic lights confrontation.
Despite his denials, Courtney was found guilty of threatening to kill Mr McCord.
He was acquitted on a second charge of harassing Ms Coulter.
During a sentencing hearing on Friday, defence barrister Sean Mullan insisted it had been a chance encounter.
“At its height it was a verbal exchange and nothing has happened since,” he told the court.
Mr Mullan acknowledged his client’s past criminal record but argued that there were significant gaps in offending by a man who now carries out work in his local community.