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Dublin blogger accused of harassing CBeebies TV star gets more time to decide plea

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Accused: Dublin blogger and actress Frances Winston

Accused: Dublin blogger and actress Frances Winston

Accused: Dublin blogger and actress Frances Winston

A Dublin woman accused of an online harassment campaign directed at a BBC children’s television presenter has been given another two months to decide how she will plead.

Blogger, comedian and actress Frances Winston, 45, is charged with harassing CBeebies star Ferne Corrigan on social media.

She faced her third hearing Monday before Judge Michael Walsh at Dublin District Court.

He adjourned the case for nine weeks.

In December, she was given a warning, sought by gardai, to remind her she had to obey a bail condition banning her from contacting Ms Corrigan on social media.

Ms Winston, who has an address at Rathgar Road, Dublin 6, has not yet indicated how she will plead.

Disclosure of evidence, including typed statements, was ordered at an earlier stage following a request from defence solicitor Colleen Gildernew for the material.

The defendant faces a single count under Section 10.1 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act in which it was alleged on an on-going basis between February 19, 2016 and May 20, 2017, at various unknown locations she harassed Ferne Corrigan.

At her first hearing in September 2018, Detective Sergeant Jonathan Kelly told the court Ms Winston, was charged at Irishtown Garda station after which “she made no reply.”

Ferne Corrigan, host of My Pet And Me and Ferne and Rory’s Vet Tales, was not present for the hearing.

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The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed the case should be dealt with at district court level and not in the circuit court, which has tougher sentencing powers.

After hearing an outline of the case against the accused, Judge Walsh had accepted jurisdiction.

Detective Sergeant Kelly told the court it was alleged, “The defendant engaged in an online campaign of harassment against a named individual who is not resident in the State, and used various social media platforms to harass this individual in a very public way.”

Judge Walsh had asked if they were connected and the Garda said they were not directly linked but he added, “The injured party is the daughter of the defendant’s former partner.”

The defence solicitor had successfully resisted the garda’s application for an absolute ban on her client using social media “of any type”.

The judge agreed to her request that the order in relation to using social media would be limited to the injured party.

He has also warned that if Ms Winston were foolish enough to make contact it could lead to further charges.

Ms Winston cannot have any contact with the injured party, or members of her family and her friends, by any means.

He warned her she could not contact Ferne Corrigan and this included social media, emails, “any manner whatsoever”.

She was also told to reside at her current address and she had to give gardai her phone number.

The judge has ordered gardai to hand over copies of all the communications which included “various emails” to the defence.

Legal aid was granted to Ms Winston at her first hearing after the judge noted from the defence solicitor that she was “employed but not above the threshold”.

Ms Winston was cast to play murder plotter Sharon “Lying Eyes” Collins in a 2017 TV3 reconstruction of that case.


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