Dying stalker who terrorised young mum avoids jail
A 71-year-old serial stalker who terrorised a young mother for three years has avoided jail because he has cancer and may not have long left to live.
John Hance appeared at Fermanagh Court, where he admitted harassing the mother-of-two, who is his neighbour – the latest in a series of victims going back four decades.
The hearing was told that his stalking campaign went on for three years and left the victim so terrified she had to lock her home when she was inside with her two young children.
The court heard Hance, who is married and from Swanlinbar Road in Florencecourt, Co Fermanagh, harassed the woman by becoming fixated with her and paying close attention to her movements; leaning over a nearby wooden fence and staring at her when she arrived home; becoming more aggressive and intimidating by banging on a fence with a wooden shaft and mumbling; and shouting "f*** her".
Hance – who has previous convictions for the harassment of several other women and has served time in prison – was sentenced to five months, suspended for three years.
He was ordered to pay the woman "nominal" compensation of £250.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told Hance were it it not for a cancer diagnosis and poor prognosis, "I would have had no hesitation in sending you directly to prison".
"However, I can't ignore the medical report," he added.
He made a restraining order prohibiting Hance from any behaviour "which is likely to cause harassment or fear of violence, by means of pestering, annoying or otherwise molesting" the woman or her children.
The order bans Hance from going within 200 metres of Florencecourt Primary School at certain times of the day. It also prohibits him from driving behind the young mother.
Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said the order, which lasts for three years, "might be for longer than he actually lives".
The prosecutor said the woman "locks her home when she is inside and feels frightened in her own home". He told the court that on February 25, the woman phoned the police to complain that Hance had been harassing her for the previous three years.
The District Judge warned Hance that he will end up in prison if he breaches the restraining order.
A serial offender and pest to women
John Hance has a string of convictions for pestering women and has been imprisoned twice for it.
The 71-year-old from Co Fermanagh began pestering young women back in the 1970s, spying on one in her bedroom as she dressed for church and following her when she went on shopping trips.
He was subsequently convicted of four charges of behaviour relating to nearly identical incidents when he again “fell in love” with a much younger woman.
In the early 1990s he appeared in court for pestering another young woman after he continuously watched her at her office.
In 1994 he was back in court again for pestering the same woman and was jailed for a total of nine months.
In August 2009 Hance was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for stalking a woman in her 20s.
In February 2011 Hance was sentenced to six months in prison after he was convicted of using his car to “harass and intimidate” a young woman.