Harassment accused faces circuit court trial

A judge has decided that charges against a man for alleged harassment via social media are too serious to be dealt with at Cork District Court.

Judge Leo Malone said he would not accept jurisdiction to deal with the case against Stephen Downey, aged 24, with an address at Lissadell, Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork.

Ultimately, a book of evidence will have to be prepared in the case so it can be dealt with by judge and jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, possibly this year.

Detective Garda Aonghus Cotter charged Mr Downey with three counts of harassment contrary to the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

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It is alleged that, on dates between March and August last year, Mr Downey harassed a man and a woman at an address in Cork and that he harassed another woman.

Judge Malone asked for an outline of the allegations so that he could decide if he would accept jurisdiction to deal with the case.

The allegations were that Mr Downey set up a fictitious identity on social media using a made-up woman’s name and that he then used pictures from the actual Facebook page of one of the complainants.

It was alleged by Det Garda Cotter that these pictures were sent to others via social media and that he also sent pictures of a woman taken from a pornographic site, giving the impression that they were more pictures of the complainant.

It was alleged that a number of people who allegedly received such communications inquired about meeting the woman.

The detective said it was then alleged that the person operating the fictitious social media identity gave an actual address in Cork where another woman lived with her partner. This couple subsequently complained to gardaí that a number of people called to their home arising out of their address being identified via social media.

After hearing these allegations, Judge Malone refused jurisdiction.

Inspector Bill Duane asked for an adjournment of the case for a month. Mr Downey was remanded on bail for that period.

Joseph Cuddigan, solicitor, was appointed to represent Mr Downey on free legal aid.

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