A Lurgan man convicted of harassing six women has spoken of his “deep shame”, saying he is sorry for the hurt caused to his victims.
Robin Duke has been barred from contacting the women for life after six restraining orders were put in place by a judge in January.
In a recent interview, Ms McClarnon revealed she was suffering from anxiety after the 34-year-old posted a litany of vile and suggestive messages on her Twitter account.
In one of the messages he threatened to rape her.
Duke told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday he is living in fear over how people will treat him and is afraid to leave his home. “I’m really sorry for what I’ve done, I never meant to cause hurt or pain but I did. I had personal issues. My family are very disappointed but they have been supporting me,” he said.
“I’m trying to make amends but I can’t contact any of my victims. I haven’t used a social networking site since January. I met Liz McClarnon at a CD signing and have been a big fan of hers for years.”
Asked why he sent the messages, he responded: “I sent them because I was in a drunken rage, but I can’t remember sending some of the messages, including the rape threat.
“When I realised what I had done I was appalled at myself and felt ashamed because it’s not like me to say something like that, it’s not in my character.
“I haven’t really been out of my house since the weekend when this all came out in the public.
“I’m worried about local people’s reaction to it all, I’m not sure how they will treat me.”
Unemployed Duke, who is single and living with his family in the Co Armagh town, said he now wants to help combat cyber bullying. He added: “I want to get involved and help people who are cyber bullies or addicted to social networks and help them through it and tell them of my experience and that it’s not worth it. I think the amount of cyber bullying is rising all the time and a lot of kids are suffering from it.”
Ms McClarnon will speak of her ordeal in a forthcoming episode of documentary series My Secret Past, to be screened by Channel 5.
Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, she said: “At first I just thought it was compliments, then it turned into over-familiar behaviour. After a while it went into absolute filth and graphic sexual images. The threats came later. He said exactly how he was going to rape me. He was saying it all publicly on Twitter, which made it even more disturbing.”
In January, after a police investigation, Duke pleaded guilty to six charges of harassment against Ms McClarnon and five others.
He was sentenced to three years’ probation and a community sex offences programme, as well as drug and alcohol counselling. He was also given restraining orders to protect his victims.