Woman feared for life over estranged husband's tweets

A woman has told how she feared for her life after being bombarded with 4,000 Twitter messages from her estranged husband that ranged from “nonsense” to death threats.

Conor Monks, with an address at Caneras Place, Bantry, Co Cork, faced charges of breaching a barring order when he sent the messages over a number of weeks last summer.

Garda Tim Forde told Skibbereen District Court that in July 2017, Mr Monks began to send “a barrage of messages from his Twitter account to the injured party”.

He said approximately 4,000 messages were sent and “the majority could only be described as nonsense, but extended from nonsense up to death threats”.

Garda Forde said this included threats to kill the woman and her children, that he would mutilate and torture the woman, and that some of the messages were very sexually explicit.

The court heard a barring order had already been in place and that on August 4 last Garda Forde met the injured party and took a formal complaint as well as screenshots.

Garda Forde then said he went to Bantry to arrest Mr Monks on breach of the barring order. He said in the event he was unable to arrest him but did manage to speak with him.

Garda Forde said Mr Monks claimed he was unaware that what he was doing was in breach of the barring order and since then the messages had stopped. Garda Forde said he later arrested Mr Monks on October 12.

Mr Monks’ solicitor, Ray Hennessy, said his client was a 44-year-old father of six and had been living in the Drinagh area in West Cork for up to eight years without coming to any Garda attention.

In the witness box Mr Monks, a musician, said he had been frustrated at not seeing his children, that he was not a violent person, and he denied ever making death threats to his estranged wife or children.

“I was just letting off steam,” he said. “I didn’t realise that the barring order was still in place. A lot of them were jokes.

“I was acting out of upset.”

He said he had been to hospital and was seeing a doctor, that he wanted to see his children and regarding the messages “they were idle threats”.

“I was just not thinking straight,” he said. “I regret my actions as well, I really do.”

Judge Mary Dorgan said: “This court does not view what you sent as jokes. If you think they are jokes, I’m sorry.”

The injured party told the court: “His messages were very threatening to me. We were very afraid.”

She said the messages were “intimidating” and “abusive” and “my whole family were afraid for our lives”.

“All the children were very, very scared,” she said.

Pleading guilty to the charge of breaching the barring order, Mr Monks gave an undertaking not to send any messages or publish anything on any form of social media in relation to his family.

Judge Mary Dorgan made that undertaking a condition of Mr Monks’ continuing bail and ordered a probation report to be carried out, with the matter due back before court on May 22.

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