Fallen football star Keith Gillespie: I just want the right to see my son
Former football star Keith Gillespie has spoken of his regret after narrowly avoiding jail for breaching a non-molestation order.
Gillespie, who played 86 times for Northern Ireland, repeatedly telephoned and texted his ex-partner and posted a "personal photograph" of her online.
Yesterday a judge told the 39-year-old ex-Manchester United and Newcastle midfielder that he had "considered the possibility regarding a custodial sentence".
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Gillespie said his actions followed a dispute over access rights to his youngest child, Nico.
He admitted he had gone about things "the wrong way", and is now trying to secure access through the family courts.
"Of course I regret it but I don't think people actually realise that a lot of the reasoning behind it is that I've been stopped from seeing my son," he said.
"I've obviously gone about it the wrong way but I'm actually using the right channels to get access to see my son now."
Gillespie accepted he was fortunate to avoid a more severe sentence.
"There is obviously never a good time to be in court but this is probably the best outcome that could have come out of it," he added.
"I do regret what happened but, as I say, there are other hidden things where I cannot get to see my son."
Nico, who turns two next month, is the youngest of Gillespie's three children. He has two older daughters, Madison and Lexi.
Gillespie said he hadn't seen his son in seven months. "I've brought him up for 16 months and then, all of a sudden, I haven't seen him since November," he claimed.
"It has been a very difficult time for me and my family.
"When you've seen your son nearly every day for 16 months, and now since November I haven't seen him at all – that has been very difficult.
"I've got two kids in England who I see when I go over there and I speak to them every day, so it's very difficult when you've got a son who lives five minutes away and you aren't able to see him."
Gillespie, from Ballycrochan Avenue in Bangor, pleaded guilty to three separate breaches of a court-imposed non-molestation order on dates between December 2013 and February this year.
The court previously heard how Gillespie repeatedly telephoned and texted his ex-partner and posted a "personal" photograph of her on a fake Instagram account.
A prosecuting lawyer outlined how, following the breakdown of their relationship, Gillespie's ex-partner was granted a temporary non-molestation order on December 6 but that, within hours of police officers serving it, Gillespie texted her three times.
The lawyer said there was "nothing threatening" in the messages but added that the victim was "very concerned" and "felt harassed by his behaviour".
The next breach happened on January 21 when Gillespie telephoned his ex-partner nine times between 2am and 4am.
The third breach came on February 25 when, having heard that his ex had a new partner, Gillespie set up a fake Instagram account in her name and posted the "personal photograph".
Defence solicitor Darren Duncan said the offences arose as a result of Gillespie "having difficulties in coming to terms with the breakdown of the relationship" and not seeing his son.
He said Gillespie had "come to terms" with the fact the relationship was dead.
Deputy District Judge Gerald Trainor decided against a prison term after reading the pre-sentence report.
He sentenced Gillespie to 100 hours of community service and barred him from going within 200 metres of his ex-partner's home and from setting up any account on any social media website in her name.