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Belfast man convicted of 'abominable' social media abuse

Fernando Murphy
Fernando Murphy

By Alan Erwin

A Belfast man was convicted on Monday of subjecting a woman to an "abominable" campaign of social media abuse.

Prosecutors said the victim received dozens of tweets, some involving misogynistic language, from accounts linked to Fernando Murphy.

The 42-year-old, of Balholm Drive in the city, faced charges of harassment, breaching a restraining order and sending menacing messages by a public electronic communications network.

Finding Murphy guilty after he failed to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court, District Judge Desmond Perry issued a warrant for his arrest.

Mr Perry praised the victim for the "resilience" she had shown throughout the case.

He said: "I just hope and pray there is no continuation of this abominable behaviour."

The court heard the victim secured a restraining order against Murphy nearly two years ago.

But a Crown lawyer said that between December 2017 and March 2018 "she received dozens of abusive tweets from eight accounts linked to the defendant".

An email was also sent telling her to stop ignoring him, according to the prosecution.

A laptop recovered during searches at Murphy's home had links to the Twitter accounts, the court was told.

Details were also set out of a confrontation in Belfast city centre when the defendant was said to have shouted at the woman.

He was arrested but stated that he did not know who was responsible for the messages sent to the victim, claiming there were 50-60 people within his family who "absolutely hate her".

Based on the papers in the case, Mr Perry said he was satisfied of Murphy's guilt on all 10 charges before the court.

"His explanation for the incident where the parties had physical contact in the middle of Belfast I find to be completely beyond belief," the judge added.

"(The injured party) is to be congratulated on the way she has handled herself through a very, very unpleasant time - at least this case is at an end as far as she is concerned."

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