A Co Armagh woman who waged a harassment campaign against her ex and his new partner was convicted of yet more offences today (Tuesday).
Following a brief contest at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Newry, Yvonne Derby was convicted of breaching a restraining order, tampering with the victim’s car and causing criminal damage to her Mercedes car on March 29, last year.
District Judge Anne Marshall did, however, acquit the 41-year-old of using disorderly behaviour on the Shean Road.
And, suspending a three month prison sentence for two years, the judge warned Derby her behaviour “needs to stop or I will send you to Hydebank”.
Giving evidence to the court, the victim, the current partner of Derby’s ex, recounted how she was driving along the Shean Road in Forkhill when she spotted her tormentor walking ahead of her.
She told the court she recognised Derby because of her blonde hair hanging out from under a hat, her “distinctive spidery eyes” and also by the way she walked.
She said given her previous encounters with Derby, she “wanted to be as far away as possible” so, with no oncoming traffic, she moved to the other side of the road but, despite that, the defendant stepped out into the middle of the road causing her to stop.
With the incident recorded on dash cam footage played to the court, she recounted how Derby “banged on the windows and tried to open the door” before she repeatedly kicked the rear bumper, causing scratches that had to be resprayed.
Under cross-examination from defence counsel Kevin O’Hare, the witness refuted the suggestion that she could not have recognised Derby from such a distance and was identifying her because of “bad blood” between them.
The witness maintained she knew it was Derby because “she had done the same things loads of times”, declaring that “it was definitely 100% Yvonne Derby”.
Derby, from Ardshean in Forkhill, gave evidence on her own behalf and claimed she was with her aunt that morning and had gone to visit her father who was ill at the time.
Under cross-examination from the prosecution, she claimed she does not go out walking very often and even when she does, she does not go alone “because I’m afraid of [the witness] myself”.
She maintained it was “definitely not” her on the dash cam footage and, afterwards, her aunt gave evidence that she collected her niece shortly after 10am and was with her until the afternoon.
Convicting Derby, District Judge Marshall said the witness was “credible” so, while she accepted the defendant was with her aunt that day, the timings on the dash cam were such that Derby would have been able to commit the offences before she was collected.
Turning to the issue of sentencing, Mr O’Hare confirmed that Derby had completed a previous community service order by typing up a Braille book.
At the time of the offences last March, Derby was on bail awaiting sentence for other offences committed in 2022 including harassment, criminal damage and assault.
Derby had faced a litany of charges, committed between June 27 and August 23, 2022, including two counts of harassment, four counts each of driving while banned and without insurance in addition to single counts of assault and dangerous driving.
That earlier court heard how the victim had been walking her dog on June 27 when the defendant grabbed her and dragged the victim to the ground, shouting that “it was because she stole her man”.
At that stage Derby was warned that any further contact would be harassment but, despite that, on the same day she sent social media messages to the victim, adding that she also “pulled up beside the injured party and her partner in the car” as they drove along the New Road in Silverbridge.
“They told her to leave them alone but she began to shout abuse at them,” a PPS lawyer told the court.
The couple drove off but Derby followed close behind and with her full beam headlights on, she “overtook at speed, pulled in front of the car suddenly and then slammed on the brakes, causing the injured party to take evasive action.”
Having reported the incident to police, it transpired that Derby “was not entitled to drive”, having failed to reapply for her licence from an earlier ban.
On August 15, Derby’s ex was driving his lorry along the New Road, his children in the cab beside him, when she “steered into his line of travel, causing him to take evasive action to swerve out of the way”.
The following day, her ex’s partner “got 24 phones calls from Yvonne Derby, some from a landline, some from a withheld number but she recognised the voice and the defendant began to scream abuse at her”.
Before she was arrested, Derby had even “contacted the injured party’s mother” and she put forward a number of innocent explanations to police but the judge said those claims “have to be treated with a degree of scepticism”.
In addition to the suspended jail sentence imposed today (Tuesday), District Judge Marshall also imposed a two year restraining order and told Derby she would have to pay £360 compensation for damaging the victim’s car.
“I will send you to Hydebank if you breach the restraining order,” the district judge told Derby and repeated the warning that “this needs to stop, I have told you that before and I’m telling you again, this needs to stop or I will send you to Hydebank”.