Belfast Telegraph

'Loner' Lamont who harassed Sinn Fein's Patrice Hardy avoids jail

By Nevin Farrell

A Sinn Fein councillor in Co Antrim and two others who were harassed by a farm worker were left feeling scared, frightened and upset, a court has heard.

John Lamont (31), from Blackstone Road in Portglenone, sat with his head bowed in the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court, where a judge ordered him to do 80 hours community service.

He was also put on probation for a year.

Lamont had previously admitted six charges - three of harassment and three of persistent improper use of communications to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.

The victims were Patrice Hardy, a Sinn Fein member of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, another woman and a man.The incidents happened between March and December last year.

A prosecutor handed in statements from the victims to the judge to give him a "flavour" of what they had gone through, but she did not outline any other facts.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said it was an "unusual" case and he didn't believe there had been any repetition since the matter came to light.

He said his client was a "loner" who resided at home with his parents and "doesn't engage very well in social confines", but works and lives on a farm.

Mr Law said Lamont decided to "contact one of the local councillors" on Facebook and "acted inappropriately".

He added: "If you are not getting the response you seek you desist.

"He turned that on its head. Quite clearly, there was a downward spiral."

Mr Law said the defendant wished to apologise to the victims and was remorseful about his actions.

He said Lamont was a "broken man" and was deemed to be a low risk of re-engaging in any such "unwarranted contact".

Mr Law said the campaign was "certainly annoying for the recipients".

District Judge Peter King said Lamont continued the harassment on an "ongoing basis" and "they were all left scared, frightened and upset".

He told Lamont: "You have left three completely innocent members of the community feeling vulnerable, scared and, to varying degrees, under threat".

He said Lamont had made a "significant" amount of contact and added to the court it was unacceptable, and he did not wish to see a repeat of it.

Putting the defendant on probation for a year and ordering him to do 80 hours community service, the judge also put two-year restraining orders in place, banning him from having contact with any of his three victims.

The judge told Lamont: "You would be well advised to avoid this sort of behaviour in the future."

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