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Bessbrook man accused of continually harassing ex-partner with 301-pages worth of WhatsApp messages

A South Armagh man who is accused of continually harassing his ex-partner by asking her to take him back has been refused bail.

Remanding the 48-year-old in custody, the deputy district judge commented: “My view is that he won’t stay away and the only way to deal with him is to refuse bail.”

Bernard John Evans, of Church Road in Bessbrook, was charged with two counts of harassment and one of persistent improper use of public communications to cause anxiety at Armagh Magistrates’, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.

Appearing via videolink from police custody, the defendant confirmed that he understood the charges and was connected to the same by a constable.

Defence solicitor Padraig Tiernan made no question to the connection and informed court an application for bail, which was opposed, was being made on his client’s behalf.

Outlining the background to the charges, the constable stated that on August 2, the injured party contacted police to report that she was being harassed by her ex-partner – the defendant.

She said that they had been together for some 18 months but the relationship had ended in March.

The injured party claimed to have received messages on a daily basis from Evans via Whatsapp, most of these relating to him wanting her to take him back.

She stated that she had replied to messages and had not blocked his contact over fears that he would come to her home.

In these messages, the injured party reiterated to the defendant that the relationship was over and asked for him to cease contact.

On August 15, Evans’ ex-partner once more contacted police regarding harassment but stated that she did not wish to make a complaint.

Officers then spoke to the defendant advising him to not have any contact with the injured party.

Police were provided with a message history from May 7 to August 2, which made up some 301 pages, most of which were messages sent by Evans.

On August 20, the defendant is alleged to have approached and tried to speak with the injured party as she entered a shop near her place of work in Newry.

Evans was arrested for breach of bail and police stated he made partial admissions during interview.

Then on August 30, the injured party claimed that the defendant had followed her into an AA meeting.

She reported seeing Evans’ Alfa Romeo car parked outside the meeting which she then took photos of.

Whilst outside having a smoke, the female claimed she saw the defendant staring at her from the driver seat of the car.

At 8.35pm, the injured party stated that Evans had tried to join the meeting but was taken to a separate room due to Covid regulations.

Whilst getting a lift home from a friend, she alleged that the defendant had followed them until her friend pulled over.

Shortly after 11pm, the injured party stated she was contacted by her new partner, who claimed to have seen Evans’ car pulling into their cul-de-sac twice in a matter of minutes.

Evans was subsequently arrested for a further allegation of harassment.

Mr Tiernan stated that his client instructed him that both he and the injured party would regularly attend AA meetings and they just so happened to attend the same night.

The solicitor continued explaining that Evans was in full time employment, was the carer of his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and also had shared custody of his 13-year-old son.

He submitted that there were “no threats or violence” alleged in this case and bail with additional conditions could “assuage” the fears of the court.

However, Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter stated: “My view is that he won’t stay away and the only way to deal with him is to refuse bail.”

Evans was remanded in custody to appear before Newry Magistrates today.

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