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Man who breached restraining order three times to contact ex ‘must accept it’s over and move on’

He left voicemails in which he stated 'F*** sake, where are you?' and 'I've never loved anyone so much'

A man who breached a restraining order referring to his ex-partner on three occasions has been handed a suspended sentence.

The 58-year-old’s barrister told the court: “He has now come to accept that his relationship with his former partner is now over. She has moved on and so he has to.”

Christopher John McGuigan, of Aughrim Court in Kilkeel, appeared for sentencing on three counts of breaching a restraining order, harassment and driving whilst unfit at Newry Magistrates’, sitting a Lisburn on Wednesday, via videolink from Maghaberry.

These offences were accrued by the defendant over four separate incidents between February of last year and April of this year.

In chronological order, prosecution outlined that on February 10, 2019, a female reported to police that she had been receiving text messages of a disturbing nature from an unknown number.

In these the sender had been asking for a female by name and claimed to be the head of the female surgical ward at Daisy Hill Hospital.

The reporting person contacted Daisy Hill and was informed that nobody by the name given worked on that ward.

They later phoned this number and spoke to a male, who identified himself as the defendant.

He asked for her to make contact with the female he previously named, who was his ex-partner who had a restraining order in reference to him.

The reporting person informed McGuigan’s ex of the contact which had been made, which made her “extremely distressed”.

The defendant was subsequently arrested, and when interviewed accepted sending the messages and speaking to the reporting person.

The next set of offences relate to letters which were sent in May, of last year, to the injured party’s boss and to her friends.

Upon McGuigan’s arrest, police located a number of letters in a printer at his home.

During his interview, the defendant claimed that he had been helping his mother with her correspondence. He stated he was aware of the restraining order and had only sent one letter prior to it coming into affect.

Then on March 22, of this year, at 8.08pm police received a report from the injured party that she had received a call from a withheld number.

The voice on the phone had stated her name and she recognised it as that of the defendant, her ex-partner.

He would go on to leave voicemails in which he stated; “F*** sake, where are you? ” and “I’ve never loved anyone so much”.

McGuigan was arrested, and when interviewed he claimed to have had an alcohol relapse after 18 years of not drinking and claimed to have no recollection of the calls.

Further, on April 28 at 9.29pm, police received a report from staff at Asda in Kilkeel of a suspected drink driver.

The male had appeared intoxicated. He came into the store, purchased alcohol and drove off in a campervan, which is owned by the defendant.

Officers attended McGuigan’s home and a preliminary breath test was conducted resulting ina  fail and he was subsequently arrested.

At Lurgan Custody Suite, a doctor deemed him unfit for interview until the following day.

Prosecution stated that the defendant had 12 previous convictions.

These included; driving whilst unfit from 2003, possession of Class A and B along with harassment from October 2018, intimidation of witnesses from November 2018, he was also convicted of a further harassment offence and breach of a restraining order in December of last year.

Defence barrister Seamus Lannon stated: “He has now come to accept that his relationship with his former partner is now over. She has moved on and so he has to.

“He has reignited his relationship with alcohol and as a consequence has had to spend a few weeks in custody.”

He continued: “This has given him time to reflect on the difficulties he causes himself and his family who rely on him, especially his mother. He has also put the public in danger by getting into a vehicle whilst intoxicated.

“I would ask your worship not to impose a custodial sentence, I ask that you put him to the test to see if he has learned his lesson.”

District Judge Amanda Brady stated: “I am dealing with this by way of a suspended sentence, the purpose of this is to leave something hanging over your head.

“Mr McGuigan, if you go back to your ways and pester this person you will be at the door of prison.”

The defendant was sentenced to three months in custody suspended for two years, he was disqualified from driving for 12 months and was ordered to pay a fine of £150, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 20 weeks.

District Judge Brady also put in place a new restraining order for a period of two years, which prohibits McGuigan from making any contact with the injured party by any means.

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