Man with Ballywalter address mounted campaign of 'hi-tech harassment'

Man with Ballywalter address mounted campaign of 'hi-tech harassment'

A MAN with a Ballywalter address conducted what a judge described as "hi-tech harassment".

Douglas McGonegle (48), of Main Street, admitted harassment of his ex-wife between May 2020 and October, 2021.

He also pleaded guilty to harassment of her and breaching a Non-Molestation Order on Valentine's Day this year.

The defendant appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court (main picture) via video link from Maghaberry Prison.

A prosecutor said the defendant was able to, remotely, turn lights on and off in a house and "monitored the injured party's comings and goings through the doorbell system".

The defendant had also sent messages, causing "distress".

On February 14 this year whilst on bail the defendant was "constantly phoning and texting" and "driving around the neighbourhood" trying to locate her.

A defence lawyer asked for the defendant to be put on Probation.

District Judge Mark Hamill described it as "21st century harassment, hi-tech harassment".

The judge put McGonegle on Probation for two years and also put in place a two year Restraining Order.

To "protect" the victim he said he would defer sentencing for a year and he expected a "glowing report" from Probation at that stage.

Judge Hamill said in a year's time if there was no further offending he would then hand down an eight months prison sentence, suspended for three years.

He added: "If there is any further harassment of this woman, particularly the hi-tech sinister harassment, I expect it to be taken to the Crown Court".

The judge said the maximum sentence at the Crown Court for "stalking" was years and added the "difficulty" at the Magistrates Court was that the maximum for harassment is "six months".