A man has been accused of sending a “grossly offensive” tweet in which he claimed “the only good Brit soldier is a deed one” the day after fundraising hero Captain Sir Tom Moore died.
Joseph Kelly, 36, appeared on trial at Lanark Sheriff Court on Monday where he denied the nature of the message posted on 3 February last year.
The tweet said: “the only good Brit soldier is a deed one, burn auld fella buuuuurn.”
The charge under the Communications Act alleges Mr Kelly made a public social media post that was “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, and that did utter offensive remarks about Captain Sir Tom Moore, now deceased”.
Janet Hunter Jess, a member of the public who saw the tweet, told the court she was hurt at reading the message.
The 72-year-old, whose family served in the armed forces, said: “To see someone wishing British soldiers dead, it still hurts me. It still hurts me that anybody would disrespect someone that had given their life for the country.”
Luzier Jeffery, Mr Kelly’s then-neighbour, said she was “shocked” when she saw the tweet.
“First of all, the gentleman in question had done so much to raise awareness and funds for the NHS in England and became a bit of a national hero at the time, but then the fact it referred to British soldiers as well,” the 51-year-old told the court.
“If you have had anybody who fought for your country, it just left a bad taste.”
She said she spoke to Mr Kelly after he was arrested and claimed he told her he had “done a lot of stupid things in my time but that’s one of the worst”.
“He regretted it from what I can remember, it was a spur of the moment,” she told the court.
Cameron Smith, defending, told the court the tweet could not be described as “grossly offensive”.
He argued that while it might be “unpleasant” and “unsavoury”, it did not pass the threshold.
Mr Smith told the trial the message was not about a protected characteristic, such as race, religion, or gender, and did not incite violence.
At one point in the trial, Sheriff Adrian Cottam threatened to put Mr Kelly in the cells if he did not stop shaking his head as prosecutor Liam Haggert spoke about Sir Tom.
Sir Tom, who walked 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday to raise more than £32m for the NHS, died in Bedford Hospital on 2 February after testing positive for COVID-19.
He was knighted by the Queen in recognition of his efforts.
The trial continues.