Pensioner who threatened to assassinate Nicola Sturgeon found guilty

A pensioner has been found guilty of threatening to assassinate Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

William Curtis, 70, sent threatening social media posts to Ms Sturgeon on various occasions between 27 February and 6 March 2019.

He was also found guilty of sending or causing a threatening message to be sent to former MSP Stewart Stevenson on 9 March that year.

Jurors at Glasgow's High Court found that Curtis and Philip Mitchell, 60, also assaulted and abducted a sheriff in a car park in Banff, Aberdeenshire, in June 2021.

Mitchell claimed he was performing a citizens' arrest on Sheriff Robert McDonald and had lawful authority to do so, but Judge Lord Weir told the jury there was no evidence to support this.

The jury began deliberating at about midday on Thursday and reached a verdict just over 24 hours later on Friday.

One of the posts from 6 March 2019 from a Facebook account in the name of William Patrick Curtis - which his former partner confirmed he had - was read out in court.

It read: "We have reason to believe while it is my intention to citizens (sic) arrest her [Ms Sturgeon] to answer her treason, over the last three years, serious people who reel the abuse to the electorate by her criminal activities warrants assassination of her and sevreal (sic) of her ministers, on down to even civilians who work in all agenices (sic) who have repeatedly lied to the electorate and conspired with the First Minister."

Ms Sturgeon's office manager, John Skinner, flagged the post to his boss and when asked in court what was made of the phrase "warrant assassination of her", he said: "To murder the first minister."

The message to Mr Stevenson threatened him and contained a link to a video relating to the murder of MP Jo Cox, the court was told.

A direct Facebook message was sent to Mr Stevenson from "Carole Curtis", reading: "Your turn is comming (sic) of that you can be sure."

Curtis lodged a special defence of incrimination, claiming someone else committed the offence against Mr Stevenson, but jurors rejected this.

Jurors found Curtis guilty of a fourth charge of behaving in a "threatening or abusive manner which was likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm" by posting "messages of a threatening and abusive nature" in October 2020.

He was also charged with the same offence for a June 2021 post but that was withdrawn by the Crown and he was acquitted.

All of the offences occurred in Aberdeenshire.

Both men will be sentenced on 3 March at Edinburgh's High Court, Lord Weir confirmed.