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No prison term for harassment of ex-boyfriend

A WOMAN whose former boyfriend was forced to leave the country after she harassed him, victimised three generations of his family, a court heard.

Judge Patrick Durcan imposed a one-year suspended jail term on Siobhan Downes (35) of Childers Road, Ennis, over four sample counts of breaches of a Protection Order that was granted to her former boyfriend last year.

The victim, a Co Clare man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – secured the Protection Order after the former air hostess made persistent contact with him after their relationship broke down.

Judge Durcan said that the man "has essentially been forced to emigrate to England" because of the harassment perpetrated by Ms Downes.

The judge said the man was not the only victim in the case, pointing out that the man's 65-year-old father's mental health deteriorated because of Ms Downes's "most appalling intrusion into the lives of that family".

And he added that a grand-child was also adversely affected psychologically as a result of Ms Downes's actions.

The judge made his comments after written victim impact statements concerning the victim and family members were handed into court by gardai yesterday.

He said Ms Downes had breached the Protection Order "on a sustained, serious and continuing basis between March 5, 2013, and October 3 last" and this constituted "the most serious harassment of a former partner and his family".

The intrusion "had appalling effects" and "I'm of the view that she engaged in the most appalling and horrific criminal behaviour," judge Durcan said.

He said that he would only accept to an extent that Ms Downes's mental health difficulties was the reason for the harassment.

Describing the case as "an unusual and very sad one", Judge Durcan said: "I am of the view that the defendant continued a level of harassment at a time when it could have been stopped by her."

He said: "Her appalling behaviour had the effect of victimising three generations of one family."

Ms Downes's father, Sean Downes, yesterday gave evidence and blamed prescribed medication that his daughter was taking at the time for her behaviour, and Judge Durcan said that this may well be the case.

He said: "As a family, we have suffered as well and we saw a daughter that we didn't know at all."

However, Mr Downes said that there have been significant improvements in his daughter's condition.

He said: "She has had no contact with the victim's family in six months. She is back working and enjoying her life again."

Her solicitor, Turlough Herbert, said that "the genesis for my client's behaviour was a human relationship that went wrong and factors that exacerbated that situation".

He said: "What was required here all along was the intervention of the mental health services and that was accorded to my client as early as July 2011 while the relationship was extant and that was at the behest of the injured party's family.


Mr Herbert added: "According to the most recent medical report, I think that they might have finally 'cracked the nut' and this lady has improved considerably.

Mr Herbert said that the injured party wrote that Ms Downes's behaviour was one of a number of reasons why he has emigrated.

Requesting that Judge Durcan not convict his client, Mr Herbert said: "Ms Downes did spend 10 terrible days in Limerick prison and she was injured while there and I can testify to that, I saw the injuries. She has suffered hugely and I think she has suffered enough with time spent in custody."

Judge Durcan said that he couldn't agree to not convicting Ms Downes and recognisance was set in the event of an appeal.