Friday 23 February 2018

Woman faces harassment charge after 'chasing ex on street, hacking accounts'

Emma Butt
Emma Butt

Tom Tuite

A sound engineer allegedly hacked into her ex-boyfriend's social media accounts, spread stories about their break-up on blogs and moved into his building during an alleged campaign of harassment.

Emma Butt (29), with an address at Riverside Grove, Coolock, Dublin, is accused of harassing her ex-partner between February 1 and May 30 in 2015 at various locations, a court heard.

It is alleged she accessed his social media accounts, emailed his family and his business contacts, wrote a blog about their break-up, and chased him down a road.

She also moved into a property two doors down from the complainant after their relationship ended, Dublin District Court heard.

Judge Michael Walsh heard an outline of the facts for the purpose of deciding jurisdiction and held that the case was too serious for the district court.

This means her trial will go to the Circuit Court which has tougher sentencing powers.

Garda Mark Nolan, of Sundrive Road station, told Judge Walsh that Emma Butt had been in a relationship with the complainant for seven months. After it ended, the man was subjected to a massive amount of emails and phone calls, he said.

The court heard she wrote a six-part blog about their relationship which she sent to members of his family and other people known to him.

It was alleged his Twitter account was accessed by her and his followers were sent the blog.

The court heard the man worked in the television and sound business and the blog was sent to his employer and clients.

"His Facebook account was hacked, his ex-girlfriends were contacted saying how horrible he was and that he ended the relationship, she claimed, because she was pregnant," Gda Nolan alleged.

The court heard it was alleged she sent a false photo of a pregnancy test which turned out to be a stock picture.

On one occasion, gardaí were called because she was waiting outside the man's apartment but she had left by the time they arrived.

The court heard at one stage Ms Butt moved into the same apartment complex, two doors down from him and lived there for about three months.

She would be outside in the car part waiting for him and "he would be forced to literally run down the road while she chased him," Gda Nolan said.

It was alleged she contacted his father with claims about how badly she had been treated and this caused stress to his family. Her former partner did not know how she got his father's email address.

The court heard the alleged harassment involved her ex-boyfriend's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Defence solicitor Michael French told the court Ms Butt, who did not address the court, is now living in London and had travelled back to face the case.

Judge Walsh said the woman enjoys the presumption of innocence. However, he refused jurisdiction for the case to be heard in the district court saying it was not a minor offence and it was alleged every possible device was used to harass her former partner.

She was remanded on continuing bail to appear again at the district court in September when it is expected she will be served with a book of evidence and returned for trial. Legal aid was granted.

Irish Independent

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