Father of three jailed to protect his ex-wife

Court
Court

A Banbridge father of three who has persistently defied a non-molestation order to protect his ex-wife, has been jailed for five months.

Andrew William Stewart (42) from Linenhall Street was sentenced at last week’s local Magistrates Court.

District Judge Mr Paul Copeland said he was “concerned about this case” adding that Stewart has been “almost defiant of the law.” He added, “I am concerned about the well-being of his wife and children.”

The court heard how on 8 June this year, the injured party contacted police to say her ex-husband had breached a non-molestation order.

The court heard how on one occasion, Stewart approached the injured party saying to her “look what you are doing to these kids.”

On another occasion during an arranged pick up for the children, Stewart leaned into the driver’s seat of the injured party’s car again trying to question her.

Stewart attempted to grab the keys and there was a struggle, before the woman made off.

When arrested Stewart told police it was a pity matters could not be sorted out “civilly”.

Barrister Mr O’Hare explained how his client’s marriage had broken down.

He said at the start relations were quite amiable and contact between Stewart and the children was arranged with the help of an intermediary.

Mr O’Hare said his client accepted there were 100 metre restrictions in place as part of the non-molestation order. However, he said his client thought that because he and the injured party were in agreement, then there was no restriction.

“Clearly the injured party was aggrieved and phoned the police.”

Mr O’Hare added, “Since this it has became clear that he can’t allow himself to fall foul of the order. He hasn’t seen his kids in three weeks.”

Judge Copeland said he was taking into account the fact that this was Stewart’s third conviction for a violation of the order, and the fact he had a suspended sentence in place.

“It is clear that you just won’t let the law take its course and let those responsible for the health well-being and safety of your family get on with it.

“Your wife took this order out and she was able to convince the court that your behaviour up until then was menacing, threatening and harassing.

“However you have persistently defied this order and set your own agenda.

Mr Copeland told Stewart the custodial threshold had been passed due to his repeated and intentional defiance of the court order by “harassing, distressing and upsetting the complainant.”

The Judge further directed that a two year restraining order also be imposed.

Mr Copeland continued, “Frequently a victim can be terrified by the very presence, never mind the sight of the accused. This incident has involved a degree if intimidation, fright and threat.”

Appeal bail was fixed at £450.