Harassment was ‘highly distressing’ for young woman

A County Tyrone man who harassed a woman he befriended on social media, has been placed on Probation for 12 months.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 12:07 pm

William John Allister Ferguson (44), of Sherrygrim Road, Dungannon, admitted three charges of pursuing a course of conduct which amounted to harassment of the woman.

Dungannon Magistrates Court was told on Wednesday the offences were committed on dates between June 29 2019 and January 9 last year.

Deputy District Judge Laura Levers also imposed a restraining order on Ferguson prohibiting him from having any contact with the injured party for 12 months.

Court news.

A defence lawyer said it was accepted that the defendant’s behaviour had been highly distressing for the victim.

He said for Ferguson it had been an imagined relationship but this did not take away from his threatening conduct.

The lawyer said the defendant cares for his parents and they are dependent upon him.

He added that Ferguson appreciated the seriousness of what he did and stressed there had been no further contact with the injured party

Judge Levers told the defendant, who appeared in court accompanied by his father, that there may be a programme Probation could suggest which would ensure this did not happen again.

She said it had been very concerning because of the period of time this young lady had been subjected to stress.

The judge remarked that the court took into account that there has been no more direct or indirect contact with the injured party.

“I hope that this continues,” she told the defendant.

She said she hoped that Ferguson could move forward in a positive way and she was giving him an opportunity to do so by placing him on Probation.

The judge said an expert supervising officer would work with him to ensure this behaviour is not repeated.

“It is very important that you work with Probation Services or the matter will be brought back to court and the court will sentence you in a different way,” she added.

The judge also made an order prohibiting Ferguson from sending text messages to the injured party or referring to her in any social media or getting a third party to contact or refer to her on social media on his behalf.

She warned the defendant that if he breached the court order he could face a sentence of up to six months in prison.