Man sent his ex-girlfriend 'appalling' messages, including telling her 'to go and hang herself'

A 29-year-old man, who sent ‘appalling’ messages to his ex-girlfriend, has been jailed by a judge at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

Ryan Pepper, aged 29, with an address at Trostan Avenue, Ballymena, appeared via video link from Maghaberry Prison before Craigavon Magistrates Court on Friday.

He pleaded guilty to the improper use of public communications network by sending a message that you knew to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another contrary to Section 127 (2)(a) of the Communications Act 2003.

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Craigavon Courthouse.
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A prosecution lawyer told the court: “On Wednesday, October 19, 2022 the injured party reported that around 3.10pm she received two voice mails from a male she recognised to be the defendant. The number was new and not saved as she had blocked him. The injured party said it was the defendant screaming abuse down the phone using foul language and calling her ‘a slut and a tramp’.

"Approximately five calls were received from the defendant. These calls were made of him hurling abuse down the phone, threatening her with social services, ‘wait and see what happens to you in your house now’. There are also 18 messages received from the defendant on October 19 over WhatsApp and text. The injured party stated those messages were abusive and were causing upset ranging from her ‘being told to go and hang herself’ to references regarding her dying grandmother along with repeatedly calling her ‘a slut and a tramp’.

"The injured party stated this had left her feeling afraid, she is a single mother who lives alone. There is an application for a restraining order,” said the prosecutor.

Her barrister Mr Aaron Thompson said some of the messages highlighted ‘makes for particularly appalling listening’

He added: “I know Your Worship will be troubled by that and it will draw the ire of the court.

"Can I just say I have dealt with Mr Pepper for a number of years and he has a complete poverty of expression. When he gets emotional and upset he doesn’t equip himself well and I am sure the injured party knows how he is.

"Mr Pepper has assiduously pursued a guilty plea in this case,” said Mr Thompson adding that he has done his fair share of prison time.

“He has served, since his late teens and when you add it all up, 10 years in custody and none of it in a long sentence,” said the barrister, asking if the judge would consider a sentence which would leave something hanging over his head.

Judge Bernie Kelly said: “Mr Pepper, this is obviously a serious enough matter. Your record doesn’t exactly show much consideration. I notice a similar offence in August 2021.

"Taking all of that into consideration and also this is aggravated by the Section 15 aggravator, I am certifying this offence as so serious there is only one penalty I can impose. I am going to impose a period of three months together with the £25 Offender Levy,” said Judge Kelly granting a restraining order for two years