Belfast Telegraph

Woman behind an online campaign against ex appeals restraining order

By Nevin Farrell

A woman who mounted a long-running Facebook campaign against her former partner wants to appeal against a restraining order that gags her from making any reference on social media to the man and his new girlfriend.

Maureen Curoe (40) of Pilot Street, Belfast, was hit with a two-year order in July and warned that if she breached it she could face up to five years in prison.

Curoe, who had been partner to Adrian McAleese (38) for several years, was told by District Judge Liam McNally at Coleraine Magistrates Court on July 27: "It is now time for these messages to stop."

The judge told her to get on with her life and allow Mr McAleese - the father to one of her children - and his girlfriend Yvonne Hegarty (47) to get on with their lives.

He imposed a two-year restraining order which bans Curoe from posting any messages or getting somebody else to post a message for her on any social media making any reference to Mr McAleese or Ms Hegarty or any reference to any history involving them.

Curoe's barrister Ben Thompson returned to the same court yesterday to say his client, who was not present, wished to appeal the restraining order.

The case is due to be heard in September after Judge McNally allowed the application and fixed bail for Curoe in the sum of £100.

The judge also told a prosecutor to get the Public Prosecution Service to notify Mr McAleese and his partner about the appeal.

At the court in July Curoe's defence barrister Ben Thompson said she believed the Facebook ban could be abused by the alleged injured parties.

Also at the previous court, Judge McNally accepted there had been posts by Curoe on Facebook, but said they were not of a menacing nature.

And after discussions involving the legal teams a prosecutor told the court they would offer no evidence on the charge that Curoe had harassed Ms Hegarty if the court would grant a restraining order to prohibit Curoe referring to either Ms Hegarty or Mr McAleese on social media.

At the July 27 hearing, in dismissing fresh charges regarding improper use of communications, Judge McNally said he heard evidence in the case the previous week and at the end of the prosecution case the defence said there was no case to answer because the messages could not be construed as menacing.

For a message to be menacing, the judge said it had to convey a threat, and while he accepted messages should not have been posted, he said their contents did not meet the required standard to be menacing.

After the July 27 hearing, Curoe posed for a photo but said she was saying "nothing at the minute, taking no chances, saying nothing, leave it in the hands of my solicitor".

Mr McAleese and Ms Hegarty later gave a Press interview to say they were working to get their life back together after two years of what they described as "utter hell".

They said their focus will continue to be on Adrian's nine-year-old son's happiness, education and future.

They believe Adrian being granted full custody of the little boy two years ago was the catalyst for the online campaign.

Adrian said: "She made our life hell.

"She made things so bad that at one stage I even offered to leave Yvonne, the woman I love. But Yvonne and I are strong, we're just one of those couples meant to be together.

"In that moment my life staggered to a total standstill and I had to re-evaluate everything because suddenly I'd this little boy to look after full-time. He became my top priority and Yvonne was right by my side."

Yvonne Hegarty, a charity fundraiser and classroom assistant for children with special needs, is receiving counselling to cope with the pressure the Facebook campaign placed her under.

Belfast Telegraph


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