Retired football star Keith Gillespie escaped jail yesterday when a judge ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service for three breaches of a non-molestation order.
Freeing 39-year-old Gillespie at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court, Deputy District Judge Gerald Trainor told the former Premiership winger “the court stands back from the prospect of custody” given the contents of the pre-sentence probation report.
“In this case there was consistent and repeated offending and you know that the court actively considered the possibility regarding a custodial sentence,” said Judge Trainor, adding that he was “only now satisfied that you do appreciate how seriously these matters are considered by the court”.
He had previously heard how Gillespie repeatedly telephoned and texted his ex-partner and even posted a “personal photograph” of her online, leading Gillespie to plead guilty to three separate breaches of a court-imposed non-molestation order on dates in December last year and January and February this year.
A defence lawyer said the offences arose as a result of Gillespie “having difficulties in coming to terms with the breakdown of the relationship” and not being able to see his son.
He said there was no allegation of physical violence in the relationship but rather it was Gillespie’s unwanted contact which led to the non-molestation order, submitting that his breaches were “fairly benign”.
He added that Gillespie, who was declared bankrupt in 2010, had “come to terms” with the fact the relationship was dead with “no going back”, and that he was taking legal steps to obtain regular contact with the child.
As well as the community service order, the judge also imposed a two-year restraining order barring Gillespie from contacting his victim or encouraging anyone to contact her on his behalf, going within 200 metres of her Bangor home, and from setting up any account on any social media website in her name.