Belfast Telegraph

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Judge refuses bid to overturn dissident republican Murphy's alcohol ban

Fernando Murphy
Fernando Murphy
John Toner

By John Toner

A prominent dissident republican convicted of harassing his former partner claims the police are harassing him over his bail conditions.

Fernando Murphy (42) was sentenced to 14 months in jail last month for a campaign of abuse and harassment against his former partner – but he was bailed pending appeal.

He claims cops are being oppressive in enacting his strict bail requirements which include being barred from taking alcohol.

Murphy, who used to work for the ONH-linked Conflict Resolution Services Ireland (CRSI), appeared at Laganside Magistrates Court yesterday for a breach of bail which his solicitor claimed was brought about by heavy-handed policing.

She told the court: “My client was granted High Court bail by Justice Horner on Tuesday and since then the has been an excessive amount of police contact.

“On Tuesday night G4S went out to fix his tag at 10.45pm and then on Wednesday morning police called to the door at 3am despite him being tagged and then called again on Thursday morning.

“On Friday he attended Tennent Street police station and was arrested by a civilian police employee. The custody officer then refused to detain him as he felt it was excessive and he was released.

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“Later that evening four police vans attended his home to arrest him. He took a drink due to the stress of the police contact and he took the breath test willingly knowing he would fail it.

“He does have a dependency with alcohol, something which was difficult for him to admit, he would have a few drinks every day and the family have made enquiries on his behalf about rehab.”

His solicitor asked district judge George Connor to relax his bail conditions to accommodate tempering of his alcoholism by allowing him to drink at home but the application was refused.

Judge Connnor said: “I will grant him bail but I am not minded to change his bail conditions. Mister Murphy understand this; you’re on bail, comply with the terms of that bail or you will find yourself in prison.”

Murphy’s sister acted as his surety and sat in the public gallery with a number of other supporters throughout the bail hearing.

Granting him bail Judge Connor ordered him to comply with a tagged curfew, regular reporting to police, not to enter Belfast City Centre, not to contact his alleged victim and not to consume or possess alcohol.

Murphy, of Duneden Park, Ardoyne, Belfast, was also ordered not to use, possess or obtain any internet enabled device.

At an earlier hearing last July - held in Murphy’s absence because he had jetted off on a sunshine holiday - a judge convicted him on six counts of harassment, three of breaching a restraining order and sending a menacing or obscene message, all of which were committed on dates between December 2017 and August last year.

Murphy, who has marshalled dissident parades through Belfast, used a multitude of Twitter accounts to tag the victim in messages which were “obscene and abusive.”

In addition to the online abuse, the victim was confronted in Belfast city centre in August last year by Murphy, who followed her and hurled abuse at her in the street despite a restraining order barring him from contacting her or going anywhere near her.

His appeal is due to be heard in February.

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