Footballer scores own goal with Twitter threats

Devine appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Court
Devine appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Court

A professional footballer has been penalised by the courts for posting threatening tweets about his ex-girlfriend on Twitter.

Stewart Devine (32), who played for Stirling Albion, Stranraer and Bo’ness United, is used to defending corners and tackling strikers, but he found himself in Falkirk Sheriff Court today facing charges of placing a woman in a state of fear and alarm.

The court heard Devine, following the tragic death of his partner in 2015, “threw himself” into another relationship which lasted a few months and came to an end during a holiday in Cyprus.

Refusing to accept the relationship was over, Devine bombarded the Twitter accounts of his ex-girlfriend’s employer, threatening he had “naughty” pictures of her.

Devine, 2 Ardgowan Place, Cowie, pled guilty to repeatedly posting threatening messages on Twitter concerning a woman in Larbert from July 27 to August 7.

Procurator fiscal depute Samantha Brown said: “The accused and the complainer had been in a relationship for seven months. They went abroad on holiday to Cyprus and whatever happened there caused them to come home early, on the same flight but travelling separately.

“Upon returning home the complainer had blocked him on the telephone and social media in order to have no further contact with him.”

She then became aware Devine had posted a message from his Twitter account to her employer Easy Jet.

The procurator fiscal depute said: “The first message stated ‘I would like to share that one of your workers left me for dead in Paphos, Cyprus, so naughty pics on Tumblr and give her name’.

“Another message stated ‘I will give you a few hours to reply. Pics being sent by a good mate on Whats App. Look forward to your response’. The complainer was alarmed by these messages and found them quite distressing.

“She thought the accused was going to post pictures of her.”

The police were then called and it became apparent Devine had been trying to make contact with the woman’s friends. He admitted to officers he had posted the messages on Twitter.

Andy Bryson, defence solicitor, said: “Since his former partner’s death in 2015 he has suffered from an undiagnosed form of depression. He threw himself into this new relationship.

“I think he read much more into the relationship than was being returned and he went into a spiral of despair when it ended. He accepts his irrational conduct was hurtful.

“He took the posts down very quickly and had no such images – it was an empty threat. He was obviously doing this to hit back at his ex-girlfriend. He should have maintained his own dignity and moved on.

“He wanted to hit back because of the way he thought he was treated at the end of the relationship.”

Sheriff Derek Livingston placed Devine on a supervised community payback order for two years and ordered him to pay £1000 to his victim. He also made him subject to a

non-harassment order so he could not approach or contact the complainer for two years.