Northern Ireland

Man subjects ex-girlfriend to 'obsessive' harassment

A woman had strangers calling to seek sex after an ex-partner set up an online account in her name, a court has heard.

She was also forced to change her phone number and move house after Colin Penny subjected her to "obsessive" text and internet messaging.

Penny, 30, of York Park, Belfast, was arrested after the woman's car window was smashed on 2 June.

He was ordered to complete 140 hours of community service after pleading guilty to harassment and criminal damage.

At Belfast Magistrates' Court, Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer was told Penny admitted both smashing the car window and setting up a Facebook account to contact the victim and her family.

Screenshots from 40 different incidents were provided to police.

Penny also accepted setting up a fake account on a sex site in the woman's name.

It resulted in unwanted, unknown men calling her expecting sex, the prosecutor said.

Defence barrister Sue McConnell said a break-up in the relationship between her client and the woman led to the offences being committed.

"Text messages were sent back and forth between the parties and Mr Penny fell into a deep depression," she said.

On being told the defendant had lost seven stone in weight, Mr Mateer remarked: "It hasn't done him any harm by the look of it."

Despite giving Penny credit for entering an early guilty plea, the judge said he had subjected the victim to "a very determined and longstanding period of emotional abuse".

Mr Mateer insisted the break-up was no excuse.

"You are just one of countless people in this society who has to struggle with relationship break-ups," he told Penny.

As well as imposing community service the judge ordered him to pay £566 compensation to cover the broken car window.