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Belfast Facebook troll convicted of breaching cyber ban

By Nevin Farrell

A Facebook troll who was last year hit with a five year gagging order aimed at preventing her from making any online reference to her former boyfriend's current partner has now been convicted of breaching the ban.

Maureen Curoe (42), whose address was given as Pilot Street, Belfast, was, in 2016, ordered not to refer to Coleraine woman Yvonne Hegarty on social media sites like Facebook.

The internet ban lasts until 2021 but on Friday a judge at Coleraine Magistrates Court found her guilty of breaching a Restraining Order as Curoe had made reference to Ms Hegarty on Facebook on January 8 this year.

Curoe was not present in court on Friday but after reading papers in the case, District Judge Peter King convicted her of the January matter and sentencing will take place later this month.

Also later this month Curoe will be sentenced on charges which were related to the original five year online ban.

In March last year a judge at Coleraine Court deferred sentence until this year regarding charges Curoe had pleaded guilty to involving persistent improper use of the internet for the purpose of 'causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety'.

Outside of court, Ms Hegarty, whose partner Adrian McAleese was a former boyfriend of Curoe's, previously told how she had been subjected to a long-running cyber hate blitz - sometimes involving up to 50 posts a day.

Yvonne said the internet campaign had taken a toll on her health and that of her partner.

Ms Hegarty, who has been a special needs teaching assistant at a secondary school for 20 years, said Curoe set up a number of fake Facebook profiles to attack her.

Yvonne said Curoe's interventions caused her school to close down its website for a week.

And Yvonne said Curoe also attempted to destroy her name in connection with a charity which takes children to Lapland.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court in 2016, Curoe was hit with a massive five year ban gagging her from making any reference to Adrian McAleese and Ms Hegarty.

Curoe had previously been in court in connection with an online campaign against the couple and had initially been hit with a two year ban from mentioning them on social media.

Last year the judge imposed five year restraining orders to protect Mr McAleese, from Ballymoney and Ms Hegarty from harassment to run until March 8, 2021.

Curoe was forbidden to intimidate, harass or pester Adrian McAleese and Yvonne Hegarty and could not instruct, encourage or, in any way, suggest that any other person should do so.

Curoe was also forbidden to have any contact with Adrian McAleese or Yvonne Hegarty directly or indirectly.

She was forbidden from making any reference to Adrian McAleese or Yvonne Hegarty on "any social media network site".

Yvonne Hegarty previously said the "hate campaign" had been a long drawn out process which has caused her and her friends and family "a great deal of distress".

She said: "There was her hate campaign and unhealthy obsession to assassinate my character and becoming so consumed with my life that in the end her jealousy became her weakness.

"The amount of hours she spent on the internet in her hate campaign was unbelievable. The postings came from 8am sometimes through to 3am the next day. She had posted 50 messages in one day.

"She had five fake profiles and in one fake profile she showed photos of children from my school and the school closed down the website for a week."

Ms Hegarty is on the committee of the 'Children to Lapland' charity.

She said Curoe had gone online for a year and sent people private messages on Facebook alleging Yvonne only did the charity work "to cover up my evilness," said Ms Hegarty.

Added Yvonne: "She caused so much damage to my charity page."

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