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Northern Ireland farmer jailed for harassing his ex-wife

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The breaches took the form of driving past his ex-wife's house and sounding his car horn "in a course of repetitive conduct'.

The breaches took the form of driving past his ex-wife's house and sounding his car horn "in a course of repetitive conduct'.

The breaches took the form of driving past his ex-wife's house and sounding his car horn "in a course of repetitive conduct'.

A 62-year-old farmer has been jailed for conducting a "deliberate campaign" of harassment against his ex-wife.

Sean John Thomas Murphy appeared at Belfast Crown Court, via a videolink with Maghaberry, where he was handed a sentence of two years and ten months.

This will be divided between 17 months in jail and 17 months on licence and Murphy was also issued with a ten-year restraining order.

Judge David McFarland told the farmer and civil engineer that if he continued to ignore court orders to stay away from his ex-wife, he would face longer periods in prison.

At today's sentencing, Judge McFarland set out the background of the case against Murphy, who was convicted by a jury earlier this year.

A jury at Newry Crown Court found Murphy guilty of harassing his wife over a period from August 16 to 27, 2019. The jury also convicted Murphy of eight separate counts of breaching a restraining order during that period.

Judge McFarland said these breaches took the form of driving past her house in Newtownhamilton and sounding his car horn "in a course of repetitive conduct."

Murphy made the case at his trial that whilst he accepted he did drive past her house and sound his car horn, this action was not intended to breach the order his ex had taken out against him, or to harass her.

Judge McFarland said the marriage came to an end in 2014, and since then it was clear Murphy had not accepted this and that his "conduct has deteriorated" since then.

He said Murphy's criminal offending since the break-up has consisted of harassing his ex-wife, and of breaching subsequent restraining and non-molestation orders.

This, the Belfast Recorder said, indicated a man who has demonstrated both an "inability to restrain himself" and a failure to respond to court orders.

Judge McFarland revealed that at the time of his offending last August, Murphy was on bail and awaiting sentence for previous offending.

The Judge also noted that after reading a statement written by the victim, her ex-husband's actions have had a "significant impact on her life and mental wellbeing."

Judge McFarland said the latest "deliberate campaign" mounted against her by Murphy was carried out "in the full knowledge that it would cause her emotional harm and mental anguish."

Murphy was arrested on August 29 last year, and during interview he denial harassing his ex-wife and gave what the judge described as a "lying account."

He handed Murphy a sentence of two years and ten months.

He was also issued with a ten-year restraining order, and warned "the longer he carries out this conduct, the more punitive the sentence will become."

Belfast Telegraph