Leading loyalist William ‘Mo’ Courtney has been convicted of threatening to kill high-profile victims campaigner Raymond McCord.
A second charge against him of harassing a murdered UDA leader’s daughter as part of the same incident was dismissed.
Courtney, 50, who had denied any encounter with Mr McCord and Tracey Coulter, will be sentenced next month.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard the confrontation took place at a traffic junction in the Peters Hill area of the city.
Mr McCord, an outspoken critic of loyalist terror groups since the paramilitary murder of his son Raymond Jr, had been in a car with Ms Coulter.
It was claimed that as their vehicle stopped, Courtney walked past and gestured at Ms Coulter, whose father Jackie was killed during a loyalist feud in 2000. He was alleged to have called her a “w*****”.
The incident happened in December, just weeks after Courtney, of Fernhill Heights, Belfast, was found guilty of head-butting Ms Coulter during a confrontation over drugs.
Mr McCord told the court he then got out of the car, accused the loyalist of being a woman-beater and asked if he would hit him.
According to his account Courtney replied: “F****** hit you, I’ll kill you.” Mr McCord continued: “He was shouting ‘Come up the road’, he went into a big rant, yelling.”
Asked by a prosecutor what impact the incident had on him, he said the threat left him feeling frightened.
During cross-examination, defence counsel Sean Mullan put it to him that he disliked Courtney. Mr McCord responded: “I don’t really have an opinion on him. The best way I can answer it is I wouldn’t be fond of people who are paramilitaries.”
At one stage he challenged the barrister about his client.
“I know of Mo Courtney and I know what he’s been involved in. How do you feel representing people like that?”
He said any fear was not based on the defendant himself: “We are Belfast men. If it came to something in the street I wouldn’t be worried about him as an individual.”
In his evidence Courtney insisted he had not seen either Mr McCord or Ms Coulter on the day in question. He claimed to have no problem with her and denied claims that he made an abusive phone call to her months earlier.
The court heard details of a police statement where he described having known Ms Coulter for around 20 years.
In it he added: “And see for about 19-and-a-half of them, she has hated my f****** guts.”
Courtney branded allegations he threatened to kill Mr McCord “absolute rubbish”.
The prosecution lawyer pressed him: “Would you have a reputation in your community? Would you be a known figure?” District Judge Fiona Bagnall interrupted the line of questioning before he could reply. But he insisted: “I wasn’t there. How plain can I be?”
Ruling on the case, Judge Bagnall dismissed the harassment charge due to weaknesses around the alleged phone-call incident.
But she added: “I’m satisfied beyond reasonable doubt with regard to the incident on December 9 and convict with regards to the threat to kill.”
Courtney was released on continuing bail until he is sentenced.