Judge finds Facebook post
did not breach court order

Gary Woods who was jailed for 15 Months at Antrim Crown Court for beating up his ex girlfriend.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
Gary Woods who was jailed for 15 Months at Antrim Crown Court for beating up his ex girlfriend.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.

An Aghadowey man has been cleared of breaching a non molestation order after he posted a comment on a Facebook site.

Gary Woods (25) who is currently a serving prisoner at Magheraberry, appeared before District Judge Liam McNally at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Woods contested the charge, which related to a post on a Facebook site ‘Buy, Swap and Sell’.

The non molestation order had been put in place by Judge McNally on June 3, 2014 forbidding the defendant from using violence against, intimating or harassing his former partner, Michelle Loughrey,

Court heard that on December 12 last year Ms Loughrey, posted a message on the page which included details about Woods being ‘on the run’ and being in breach of his bail.

Loughrey told the court from the witness box, that she was ‘petrified’ as she didn’t know where Woods was, and she was ‘terrified’ for her own and her daughter’s safety.

Court heard that a post then appeared, which Ms Loughrey believed was from the defendant, saying ‘Shelly you’re getting took up for your lies, on way for you’.

Ms Loughrey said that she was ‘scared’ Woods would be hiding around the corner from her home’.

At this point she took a screen shot of the social media page and emailed it to a police officer.

She said she believed that the ‘on way for you’ comment meant that the defendant was coming to get her.

Taking to the stand, Woods agreed that he was not disputing that he posted a message on the site.

He told the court: “Everyone said it wasn’t right to be putting that on Facebook, there were threats on there and I have been done by the paramilitaries before,” he said.

Woods told the court that he meant to post ‘they’re on their way for you’ relating to the police, ‘I was drunk when I posted it’, he said.

A Prosecutor put it to Woods that he should not have made any mean of contact with Ms Loughrey.

“I wasn’t thinking at the time, I was scared for my life I knew those that were on the page were paramilitaries,” 
he said.

District Judge Liam McNally pointed out that the non molestation order was in place to stop the defendant for using violence against the injured party, intimidating or harassing her, he said that it didn’t stop him from communicating with her.

Summing up the case, Judge McNally said: “She put up the message on Facebook, I understand why she did this as he had cut off his tag.

“She regarded him as a violent man, and I did too, otherwise I wouldn’t have placed the order on him in the first place.

“She wanted the matter advertised, but she should’ve left it to the police.”

Commenting on the Facebook post, Judge McNally said that ‘I’m’ was the 
important word.

Finding Woods not guilty, Judge McNally said: “In the absence of this word I am not satisfied that this was a breach of a non molestation order.” Woods was however handed a three month sentence for a second charge of criminal damage. This charge related to the defendants actions in cutting off his electronic tag, which has been put in place as part of his bail conditions.

Concluding, Judge McNally reminded the defendant that a non molestation order was in place for the next five years, following a ruling in another court last week.