A woman, who mounted a long running Facebook campaign against her former partner allegedly calling him “the lowest” and his new girlfriend a “sick bitch”, has been gagged by a court from making any further reference on social media to the couple.
Maureen Curoe (40), of Pilot Street, Belfast - mother of model ‘Miss Earth Belfast’ Joelle Curoe - was slapped with a two-year order and warned that if she breaches it she could face up to five years in prison.
Curoe, who had been partner to Adrian McAleese from Ballymoney for nine years up until three years ago, was told by District Judge Liam McNally at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday: “It is now time for these messages to stop”.
And he told her she had to get on with her own life and allow Mr McAleese and his girlfriend Yvonne Hegarty to get on with their lives.
He imposed a two-year restraining order which bans Curoe from posting any messages or getting somebody else to post a message for her on any social media making any reference to Mr McAleese or Ms Hegarty or making any reference to any history involving them.
Curoe’s defence barrister, Ben Thompson, said Ms Curoe believed that could be abused by the alleged injured parties.
Dismissing charges that Curoe had improperly used Facebook by posting menacing messages, Judge McNally said there had been posts made by Curoe on Facebook but that they did not meet the test that they were of a menacing nature.
And after discussions involving the legal teams a prosecutor told the court they would offer no evidence on the charge that Curoe had harassed Ms Hegarty if the court would grant a restraining order to prohibit Ms Curoe referring to either Ms Hegarty or Mr McAleese on social media.
At the same court last year Curoe pleaded guilty to sending obscene and menacing messages regarding Ms Hegarty on Facebook and Judge McNally said at that time he had considered a jail term but changed his mind as Curoe was pregnant but was given a four months jail term, suspended for two years, and a general non-molestation order was issued.
At Monday’s court, in dismissing fresh charges regarding improper use of communications, Judge McNally said he heard evidence in the case last Thursday and at the end of the prosecution case the defence said there was not a case to answer because the messages could not be construed as menacing.
For a message to be menacing, the judge said it had to convey a threat and while he accepted messages should not have been posted he said their contents did not meet the required standard to be menacing.
At last Thursday’s court, Adrian McAleese said messages were made on Facebook by Curoe alleging he had done certain things against her and was “the lowest” and Yvonne Hegarty was referred to as a “sick bitch” .
Defence barrister Mr Thompson alleged that the Facebook account the messages came from was “false” and set up by McAleese and Hegarty to ensure Curoe was in breach of a suspended sentence but the witness denied that.
In any case, Mr Thompson said, the messages were not menacing.
A police officer said Curoe had been invited for interview by the PSNI about the allegations and at one stage an arrest warrant was issued but she was not found. Mr Thompson said his client was pregnant at the time and could not attend interviews.
Outside the court, Curoe posed for a photo but said she was saying “nothing at the minute, taking no chances, saying nothing, leave it in the hands of my solicitor.”
Mr McAleese and Ms Hegarty made no comment outside either.