An Armagh man who sent unsolicited flowers, letters and wedding proposals to a woman in breach of a non-molestation order must wait until next month to learn his fate.
The case was adjourned after the 54-year-old claimed he was not mentally or physically fit enough to engage with the community service element of a combination order.
John Murray, of Victoria Park, appeared for sentencing on seven counts of breaching a non-molestation order and harassment at the city’s Magistrates’, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday via videolink from his solicitor’s office.
Prosecution outlined that the injured party reported to police that, between December 5 and December 22, she had received numerous letters and flowers from the defendant.
In these letters, Murray wrote that he loved the injured party and asked for her to marry him.
She stated that the defendant had also sent her a friend request on Facebook and messaged her through this service.
The unwanted flowers and letters were sent on a total of six occasions between the relevant dates.
Murray was subsequently arrested for breaching a non-molestation order and during interview at Lurgan Custody Suite he admitted sending the flowers and letters.
He stated that it was not his intention to pester or intimidate the injured party but to “profess his love” and ask her to marry him.
In January police received a report of a further breach of the non-molestation order in relation to the same injured party.
She stated that on January 11, Murray had sent her unsolicited messages via text, Whatsapp and the dating app Badoo.
The injured party said these messages had left her feeling pestered and harassed.
Murray was arrested and, during interview, he said that he could not remember sending the messages but accepted the evidence was there.
Defence barrister Kevin O’Hare stated: “He comes before the court with an otherwise clear record. He accepts responsibility and this is a guilty plea at the first opportunity.
“Some of the acts in isolation are not particularly threatening but it is accepted it did amount to a course of conduct which greatly vexed the injured party.”
He added: “In the cold light of day, that is something that he acknowledges and accepts.”
The barrister informed court that Murray had already consented to an 18 month non-molestation order which was imposed on February 1.
Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer said that he was minded to impose a combination, consisting of probation and community service, but this required the consent of the defendant.
Speaking via videolink, Murray stated he did not feel physically or mentally fit to engage with community service.
The defendant outlined that he had a “knee replacement”, was waiting on an MRI scan on his other knee and had a “breakdown” in December.
He stated: “I have enough on my plate.”
Deputy District Judge Mateer commented: “I don’t think that straight probation brings home the seriousness of this matter.”
The case was adjourned until March 16 for “additional material” showing that a combination order was not appropriate.