| 2.8°C Belfast

Community service man who 'took shine' to shop woman is jailed for harassment


Lee McCausland

Lee McCausland

Lee McCausland

A man who harassed a woman he met while carrying out community service in a charity shop has been jailed.

Lee McCausland (25) of Main Street, Clogher, admitted pursuing a course of conduct amounting to the harassment of the woman between May 9 and June 8 this year.

A victim statement was read to the court detailing the trauma McCausland had caused and the judge noted during police interview the offender detailed the "satisfaction obtained from putting the victim in fear and under his control".

Dungannon Magistrates Court heard McCausland had been placed in the Drop Inn Ministries shop in Aughnacloy as part of a Community Service Order imposed for motoring matters, including a hit and run.

Whilst there he "took a shine" to a female staff member.

She made it clear to McCausland they were purely friends, but when his behaviour continued she cut all contact.

He then set about bombarding the victim with messages via Facebook and WhatsApp, even after she made it clear she wanted nothing to do with him.

McCausland persisted and the victim reported the matter to police. In the meantime, there were further calls from withheld numbers which were hung up when answered.

It also transpired the victim was sent a link to a dating website, containing her details which she had no knowledge of and had not sought to be listed on the site. The harassment became further exacerbated when the victim received a message from McCausland telling her she had "got him into trouble with Probation and he could lose his job".

He further claimed he had made contact with the victim's boss as a result of this.

In a harrowing account to police, the victim said: "This message made me feel sick and scared. I'm a lone worker several days a week.

"I couldn't sleep as I was so worried. I had to start looking for another job. My boss also received messages from him."

She explained she had been looking forward to spending a weekend away with her family at the time but this was ruined.

A defence solicitor told the court his client pleaded guilty at an early stage, sparing the victim any further trauma.

He continued: "In relation to the messages, by my reading there was nothing threatening or malicious in the content."

District Judge John Meehan remarked: "What about the one which spoiled the victim's weekend? She's lot more sensitive than you."

The defence conceded this point and further accepted McCausland was dealt with by a suspended sentence a few weeks ago for a serious assault carried out in February.

Judge Meehan said: "So that matter was pending when he (McCausland) embarked on this episode. This was a fixation on a woman and the harassment/stalking of her."

He drew reference to a passage in a pre-sentence report which stated McCausland, who has a significant previous record, "is causing concern by his offending involving intimidating behaviour against specific individuals".

A high risk of reoffending was flagged up. The defence accepted these points but urged the court not to imprison his client and suggested a further Community Service Order, adding the order which led to the harassment "had been completed satisfactorily".

But Judge Meehan shot back: "One of the reasons why the defendant had access to this woman was because he was on a work placement through Community Service, handed down for offending by the Crown Court."

Addressing McCausland directly, he said: "Your interview with police makes uncomfortable reading, particularly the satisfaction you obtained from putting her in fear and under your control."

McCausland was jailed for four months, and bound by a two-year restraining order, banning any contact with the victim.

Belfast Telegraph