Man pestered woman with abusive texts and calls after brief relationship ended

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A Belfast man who subjected a woman to abusive messages and repeated phone calls after she ended their brief relationship has avoided prison.

Desmond Paul Steele, 32, was given a three-month suspended jail term for a campaign the victim was said to have found alarming and controlling.

Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes told him: “You need to get your head round this concept that no means no.”

Steele, a bricklayer of Antrim Road in the city, admitted harassment between October 26 to November 1 last year.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard he met the woman through social media, going on a number of dates over a four-week period.

But after the victim informed him she didn’t want to continue the relationship he sent a large number of texts, asking where she was and who she was with.

A prosecution lawyer said the woman also received abusive calls and messages, describing her as a “slut” and a “whore”.

The alleged campaign involved up to 20 calls a day from unknown numbers.

Police were alerted after Steele turned up at the home of one of her relatives, the court was told.

When he was arrested a small quantity of suspected cocaine was found on him.

Defence solicitor Robert Murtagh stressed no physical violence was involved, but acknowledged: “That’s not for one second to take away the fear this young lady had.”

Mr Murtagh submitted that the “normal control factors didn’t kick in” when Steele was informed she no longer wanted to see him.

“All this impulsive behaviour has stopped since his arrest,” he added.

Imposing three months imprisonment, Mr Holmes suspended the sentence for two years. He also fined Steele £100 for possessing the cocaine.

The judge further advised him: “When someone says they are not interested, they are not interested.”