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Belfast man who threatened to throw acid in colleague's face after she rejected him jailed

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A ten-year restraining order was issued banning him from contacting the woman

A ten-year restraining order was issued banning him from contacting the woman

A ten-year restraining order was issued banning him from contacting the woman

A Belfast man who harassed a female colleague and threatened to throw acid in her face after she turned down repeated requests to be his girlfriend was jailed on Wednesday.

Edward Stewart, with an address at Centenary House on Victoria Street, was handed a 20-month sentence after he admitted harassing the woman, and pursuing a course of conduct which caused her to fear violence.

Judge Stephen Fowler imposed an additional extended period of 24 months on licence after it emerged the 36-year-old has been deemed a dangerous offender.

As he sentenced Stewart, the judge said the defendant had a "relevant and extensive" criminal record for "targeting individuals with whom he has taken umbrage."

This included attacks and threats against former employers, his landlord, a probation officer and police.

Stewart appeared for his sentencing at Belfast Crown Court via a videolink with Maghaberry, where it emerged that he breached a restraining order issued to protect his former work colleague within an hour of it being imposed.

He initially denied the two charges and was due to stand trial in Belfast on February 18, 2020. That morning, he changed his plea and admitted the two charges.

A ten-year restraining order was issued banning him from contacting the woman. She attended court that day, and within 30 minutes of the order being imposed, she was approached by Stewart in Ann Street where he invaded her personal space and shouted at her.

Judge Fowler revealed that in June 2017, the female victim started working in a call centre where Stewart was also employed. He initially sent her hand-written notes asking if she liked him and if she would be his girlfriend.

Stewart then sent these types of notes to the woman up to five times a day for a week - despite her asking him on several occasions to stop. Stewart continued with this behaviour, and when it became clear he was being rejected, he became aggressive, rude and threatening.

Judge Fowler said Stewart then began called her a slut and a whore, and on one occasion when he was rebuffed by her, Stewart punched a computer screen.

He issued a series of threats against her and told her he was going to rape her, slit her throat and throw acid in her face. As a result of his behaviour, she made a complaint - but before this was determined, Stewart was sacked for absenteeism.

Stewart sent a text to a former fellow worker on August 29, 2017 saying, the threats were "just a bit of craic lol", and "a wee acid throwing incident may occur".

After Stewart was sacked, the woman he threatened didn't hear from him for 11 months. However, in July 2018 she received a private Facebook message from him which said "me and you are going to have a very interesting conversation the next time I see you. I have been waiting a year".

Revealing the message came "out of the blue", Judge Fowler said this had a "detrimental effect on her psychological wellbeing" and she reported the matter to the PSNI.

An investigation was launched, Stewart was arrested and during interview he falsely claimed he and the woman had gone out one night but they fell out after he kissed another woman. At that stage, he also denied the two charges levelled against him.

Turning to the Victim Impact Statement, Judge Fowler said that prior to the matter, the woman lived a normal life which included travelling to work by herself, going out with friends, and socialising. She had also been excited about starting her new job and meeting new people.

The judge said that after being threatened and harassed by Stewart at work, it has left her terrified. Her mental health suffered, she was put on medication by her GP and her parents now give her lifts to and from work.

The statement also indicated that she began getting on with her life in the 11-month period she didn't hear from Stewart, but when he messaged her on Facebook, her world 'imploded' and she now suffers from nightmares.

Judge Fowler noted that Stewart's criminal record consisted of similar offences.

In early 2010 Stewart was sacked by Value Cabs, and in April of that year he called the company, claimed he was from the IRA and threatened to cut the throat of a female call handler.

In May 2010 he assaulted a man he believed had got him sacked from Value Cabs, and in January 2011 he assaulted his former boss at the company's office and threatened to kill the man's son.

In February 2016 he threatened to bite off the nose of a security officer, while in July 2016 he caused a scene at a solicitor's office and assaulted a female receptionist.

In March 2017 he attended a meeting with his probation officer, became difficult and told the officer "I hope you die of cancer". In June he followed the same officer around Belfast city centre and assaulted him.

He also threatened police officers as well as threatening and assaulting a former landlord who evicted him.

As he sentenced Stewart, Judge Fowler said the harassment and fear he instilled in his former female work colleague was "deliberate and callous" and "designed to maximise fear and distress" - especially the threats of sexual violence and facial disfigurement via an acid attack.

The judge said he noted Stewart's lack of victim awareness, lack of remorse and his mental health issues.

Telling Stewart "you are intelligent but you are calculating", Judge Fowler said "your behaviour caused significant psychological distress to the victim."

The judge imposed a sentence of 20 months custody followed by an extended period of two years in licence.

Belfast Telegraph


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