Belfast Telegraph

Man who breached non-molestation order by harassing former partner refused bail

A Co Down man accused of regularly breaching non-molestation orders has been refused bail by a judge who said his former partner was
A Co Down man accused of regularly breaching non-molestation orders has been refused bail by a judge who said his former partner was "entitled to be protected from harassment"

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Down man accused of regularly breaching non-molestation orders has been refused bail by a judge who said his former partner was "entitled to be protected from harassment".

Joseph McTaggart (26) is currently facing two sets of charges linked to incidents involving the mother of his two children.

McTaggart, from Rathgill Way in Bangor, was described as having ADHA, behavioural problems and an extremely low IQ.

During the bail application yesterday at the High Court in Belfast a Crown prosecutor said McTaggart has been in custody since July 9, when he appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court for an incident involving his ex-partner in June.

It is the Crown's case that on June 14 McTaggart saw his former partner at the park and ride car park close to Ballymena train station and allegedly followed her to a car before getting into the vehicle and verbally abusing her.

He is also accused of refusing to get out of the car despite being asked "10 times" and, as his partner started driving towards Ballymena PSNI station, McTaggart is accused of pulling the handbrake, getting out of the car, then returning and sitting on the bonnet before again walking off.

The alleged incident occurred against the backdrop of a non-molestation order, with McTaggart living in Bangor and his former partner in the Ballymena area.

The High Court heard McTaggart is due to be sentenced next month for a separate incident in April. On this occasion he approached his ex and asked to see the children and, when she tried to drive away from the scene, he used his car to block her in.

A Crown barrister told Mr Justice O'Hara that police were objecting to McTaggart's release on bail for several reasons, including a risk of further offending, and interference with his former partner. She said: "He seems incapable or unwilling to abide by bail terms."

The prosecutor concluded that due to a series of breaches and the fact a suspended sentence may be activated, a prison sentence for McTaggart is "highly likely" when he appears in court in August.

A defence barrister said it was accepted McTaggart had breached a non-molestation order, but said due to his client's low IQ and behavioural issues, McTaggart may have had "some difficulty in understanding his obligations to the bail conditions and non-molestation order".

McTaggart's legal counsel said the accused contacted his ex regarding contact with his two children, adding: "He became very frustrated and saw fit to approach her, when clearly it was not warranted or wanted."

The defence barrister also revealed that while McTaggart accepts he got into her car, he denied pulling her handbrake and claimed he got out of the vehicle "when asked on the first occasion".

"This has been a wake-up call. I ask you to give him one last chance," the barrister said.

However, in response Mr Justice O'Hara insisted the mother of McTaggart's two children was "entitled to be protected from harassment".

Subsequently, the judge refused McTaggart bail.

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