Saturday 20 July 2019

Dublin blogger accused of harassing children's TV host on social media

Frances Winston
Frances Winston
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A DUBLIN actress and blogger has been accused of mounting an online campaign of harassment against a UK children’s television host.

Frances Winston (44) is alleged to have harassed her ex-partner’s daughter, CBeebies presenter Ferne Corrigan in “a very public way” on social media.

Ferne Corrigan
Ferne Corrigan

She was released on bail on condition that she has no contact of any kind with Ms Corrigan and her case was adjourned.

Ms Winston, with an address at Rathgar Road, is charged with harassing Ms Corrigan between February 19, 2016 and May 20, 2017.

The offence is alleged to have happened at various unknown locations.

Detective Garda Sergeant Jonathan Kelly told Judge Michael Walsh at Dublin District Court the accused made no reply to the charge after caution at Irishtown Road today.

The DPP directed summary disposal of the case at district court level, subject to the judge considering whether to accept jurisdiction.

Outlining the prosecution’s case, Det Sgt Kelly said it was alleged Ms Winston had engaged in an online campaign of harassment against a named person who was not resident in the State.

It was alleged that she “used social media platforms to harass this individual in a very public way,” he said.

Asked what the connection between them was, Det Sgt Kelly told Judge Walsh there was no direct connection but the alleged victim was the daughter of the defendant’s former partner.

The judge accepted jurisdiction, allowing the case to remain in the district court.

Defence solicitor Colleen Gildernew applied for bail and Det Sgt Kelly said there was no objection subject to conditions.

Judge Walsh granted bail in Ms Winston’s own bond of €1,000 on condition that she has no contact in any way with the alleged victim or her family or friends.

This included by social media, email and telephone.

Det Sgt Kelly also requested a condition that the accused does not engage in social media of any type, but Ms Gildernew resisted an “absolute ban”, asking the judge to limit it.

The judge stopped short of imposing an absolute ban on social media use, saying if the accused was “foolish enough” to contact the alleged victim or her family and friends, it could lead to further charges.

Ms Winston, wearing a navy blazer with a white top and black trousers, stood as the judge asked if she was prepared to abide by the bail conditions.

“Yes, judge,” she replied.

Other bail conditions are that she supplies a mobile phone number to the gardai and resides at her home address.

Ms Gildernew asked the judge to adjourn the case for three months as there was “quite a lot of disclosure” involved.

The case was adjourned to a date in December and the judge said disclosure was to include messages, emails and “all communications of whatever nature.”

The charge against the accused is contrary to Section 10 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

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