THE SCOT who trained his dog to respond to his calls of "gas the Jews" has been found guilty of posting an offensive message online.

Sheriff Derek O'Carroll found Mark Meechan guilty of communicating a video which was "grossly offensive".

The Meechan case became an international freedom of speech talking point after his video titled M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi was posted two years ago.

Among those criticising the verdict was award-winning comedy writer and performer Ricky Gervais who said: "A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed 'grossly offensive'.

"If you don't believe in a person's right to say things that you might find 'grossly offensive', then you don't believe in Freedom of Speech."

Sheriff O'Carroll said: "In my view, there is no doubt it's [the video] grossly offensive."

The Herald:

Meechan, 30, recorded his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil” by raising its paw. He said he made the video to annoy his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly.

After complaints about the content, police were called in and he was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime by uploading the footage in April 2016.

In the video, which was viewed more than three million times, Meechan, who goes by the You Tube moniker of Count Dankula repeats the phrase "gas the Jews" 23 times which The Crown described as "reckless" and "extremely offensive to the Jewish community".

Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, had denied any wrongdoing.

Sheriff O'Carroll told Airdrie Sheriff Court the video, was "threatening and grossly offensive".

He said Meechan knew the video was offensive as he said himself during his evidence that he "likes offensive comedy."

The Herald:

The sheriff added: "He said he chose 'gas the Jews' as it was the most offensive phrase associated with the Nazis that he could think of.

"It was the centrepiece of the joke. He said it was so extreme that it added to the comedy."

Sheriff O'Carroll said Meechan "knew what he was doing" adding: "It is self-evident that the material is anti-semitic."

He did not believe Meechan's defence that the video was made as a private joke to annoy his girlfriend, as he had "not taken any steps to prevent the video being shared publically".

Sentencing has been deferred till April 23.

The Herald:

But prosecutors alleged he communicated material that would cause fear and alarm and stir up hatred on religious grounds by posting a clip which was 'anti-semitic in nature' to YouTube.

READ MORE: Freedom of speech row as YouTube refuses to take down Scots Nazi Dog video

Just before going in to hear the verdict he told his YouTube followers: "If the worst comes to the worst, and everything goes terribly, keep fighting for free speech, keep fighting the good fight, the great meme war.

"I am going to leave you with a great Scottish saying, "don't let the b******s grind you down."

Police were called in after complaints were made about the content, and he was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime by uploading the footage.

The stunt provoked outrage but also sparked a freedom of speech row as YouTube initially refused to remove the 'Nazi Dog' video.

A YouTube source said at the time that while it was recognised that many would find the video offensive, many videos on the site were, and it was a site that believed in freedom of expression.

The source said the intent of the video regardless of how ludicrous and unpleasant it is perceived was "clearly comedic".

"If we felt it was toxic hate speech, we would have taken it down."

But eventually it was.

In a commentary by Nat Hentoff, a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Nick Hentoff, the criminal defence and civil liberties attorney in New York pointed to the case as an example of hate speech prosecutions that are "patently absurd".

"Every dog owner knows that if you speak in a high-pitched voice, your pet will react with as much excitement to the question, 'Do you want some bacon?' as 'Do you want to tear my throat out?'. Which begs the question whether a satirical video that compares Nazis to a dog’s Pavlovian tendency for unthinking repetition can reasonably be regarded as offensive to anyone but Nazis."

The Herald:

The case prompted at least one copycat video 

At the start of the video Meechan posted, he says: "My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of which is a Nazi."

But the procurator fiscal  argued that they do not believe the video was intended to be a joke and that Meechan had "a particular audience in mind" when he uploaded it to YouTube.

READ MORE: Court told Mark Meechan's Hitler 'salute' dog was turned into a monster

Meechan, who has lost eight jobs since posting the video, claimed he only intended it to be seen by seven of his friends, who follow his YouTube channel, Count Dankula.

But he says the video was shared, by someone he doesn't know, on the social news aggregation site Reddit which led to the surge in it's popularity.

The prosecution described Meechan as a "highly intelligent and articulate individual" but said that the pug was being used as a "prop".

The Herald:

In the video, Buddha was shown watching a speech given by Adolf Hitler in the film 'Olympia' by German film director Leni Riefenstahl.

It documents the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

In the featured footage, Hitler said: "Once, our enemies worried us and persecuted us and, from time to time... removed the lesser elements from the Movement for us.

"Today we must examine ourselves and remove from our midst the elements that have become bad."

A crowdfunding page set up to raise money for Meechan's legal fees made £12,000 in eight hours of being launched.