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Belfast Facebook troll who posted false accusations about special needs teacher is jailed for four months

By Nevin Farrell

A Facebook troll who set up a bogus account and posted false accusations about a special needs teaching assistant - including fake claims she got her pupils "drunk" - has been jailed for four months.

Maureen Curoe (42), whose address was given as Pilot Street, Belfast, also said told the victim in a text she was about to see her "ugly side".

Curoe's former partner Adrian McAleese is now in a relationship with Coleraine woman Yvonne Hegarty who was present in Coleraine Magistrates Court to see Curoe given a jail term.

Curoe was taken through the door to the cells to sign £500 bail and released pending an appeal.

There have been a number of court appearances regarding Curoe's long running online hate campaign against the couple.

Previously, she was given a five year gagging order aimed at stopping her from making reference to them on social media but she breached that in January 8 this year when she uploaded screenshots referring to Yvonne Hegarty onto Facebook.

Jailing Curoe for four months on Monday,  District Judge Liam McNally said a Restraining Order was aimed at stopping her making reference to Ms Hegarty on Facebook and he said he had reduced the sentence by a month because she had stopped doing so for a time.

Curoe was in court for sentencing on charges including a deferred sentence for persistent improper mis-use of electronic communications - which had been delayed for more than a year to see how she behaved.

And she was also sentenced after previously being convicted, in her absence, of breaching a Restraining Order.

A prosecutor said Ms Hegarty reported to police a fake Facebook account was set up which befriended 64 of her family and friends and it was established it was Curoe.

The prosecutor said the page showed a picture of the injured party and included false accusations that she had got her "disabled pupils drunk".

Ms Hegarty also received text messages from Curoe, including one which said: 'See you, you sick, twisted, c--t, you are about to see my f--king ugly side'.

Regarding breaching a Restraining Order earlier this year, the prosecutor said Curoe posted 30 photographs on her Facebook account including three screenshots mentioning Ms Hegarty.

Curoe told police she uploaded the screenshots by accident and said: "I didn't mean to do it purposefully. The last thing I wanted to do is go to jail".

Defence barrister Ben Thompson said he accepted the original case was "unpleasant" but the breach charge related to Curoe posting pictures at 2am of a night out and old images she had on her phone were uploaded by mistake.

He said there had been "total radio silence, except for this breach".

Mr Thompson said Curoe's social media has been put "under the microscope".

He said sending Curoe to jail at this stage might give his client a "sense of victimisation" and "might open up old wounds".

Judge McNally said he had previously given Curoe a suspended sentence and then a deferred sentence as he imposed a four months term.

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