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Man who harassed frightened ex with silent voicemails sentenced to four months in prison

The injured party said she had received 37 calls and 16 voicemails from an unknown number

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A man who harassed his ex-partner with calls and voicemails has been sentenced to four months in prison.

The sentence was imposed on the 32-year-old after he breached a previously imposed probation order having been handed a 20 month sentence in the Crown Court.

Eamon Joseph McKernan, with an address in Victoria Street in Belfast, appeared for revoking a probation order at Craigavon Magistrates’, sitting at Lisburn on Friday, via videolink from Maghaberry.

Prosecution informed the court that in October of last year the defendant had been sentenced to a two year probation order for a single count of harrasment.

This offence had been committed on McKernan’s ex-partner, whom he had been in a relationship with for two years and with whom he had a child.

At a previous hearing prosecution outlined that on October 25, 2018, the injured party reported to police that the defendant – her ex-partner – had breached his bail conditions by contacting her.

She said that from October 24 she had received 37 calls and 16 voicemails from an unknown number.

The injured party believed these to be from McKernan as she knew of no other person who would use an unknown number.

The first call was made on October 24 at 3.50pm with 17 more up to 11.50pm.

They resumed once more at 12.55am on October 25 with the last call being received at 1.05pm.

The injured party listened to the voicemails which were silent and this made her anxious and scared.

She claimed she was afraid this would escalate and was fearful of what the defendant might do.

On October 26, McKernan was arrested, his phone was seized and he was taken to Musgrave.

During interview, the defendant denied making the calls to the injured party.

Police triaged McKernan’s phone and checks on the calls made it clear they had been made from a prepaid SIM which did not have a registered owner.

It was believed the defendant, who had committed similar offences in 2018, had swapped SIMs in order to make the calls.

Police were able to confirm his handset had made the calls and as he was electronically tagged as part of his bail conditions could confirm the area from which the calls were made.

McKernan was again arrested on May 21, of last year, and when interviewed this time made no comment.

Speaking on Friday, defence barrister Aaron Thompson stated: “Your worship can see from the record that there was a developing problem in 2018 and 2019 into 2020.

“The relationship broke down, he was using alcohol and he lost his way quite considerably. He did not handle the loss of contact with his child and the change in lifestyle.”

It was heard that in February of this year the defendant was handed a 20 month prison sentence in the Crown Court, half of which was to be spent in custody and the other half on licence.

Mr Thompson stated: “That conviction in February ended the probation order. As he has been in custody since then it is not a case of Mr McKernan being at large and not turning up to probation, putting the two fingers up.

“He has a release date in November and I would ask that any sentence your worship puts in place is concurrent and does not interfere with this release date.”

District Judge Nigel Broderick said: “I do have the benefit of a helpful probation report. While he has a relatively short record it is peppered almost entirely with periods of imprisonment.

“Upon your release you will have to engage with the statuary agencies.”

McKernan was sentenced to four months in prison which was ordered to run concurrently with his current sentence.

District Judge Broderick reminded the defendant that a restraining order previously granted would continue to run until October 25, 2021.

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