DESPITE a judge warning a case involving a campaign of harassment against a woman had passed the custody threshold, the defendant has walked free on a suspended sentence – for the second time, and involving the same victim.

David William Kerr (38), from Grogey Road, Brookeborough, repeatedly denied a total of five charges involving three counts of fraud by false representation and single counts of harassment and improper use of a communications network to cause anxiety.

However, on the day a contest was to be heard before Enniskillen Magistrates Court, Kerr (left) changed his plea to four charges, and the remaining matter was withdrawn by the PPS.

Ahead of the facts being opened, it was disclosed that Kerr had previously targeted the same female victim for which he received a suspended sentence in 2016.

While there was no reoffending throughout the duration of the suspension, when it ended, Kerr resumed his behaviour.

Between December 15, 2018 and May 15, 2019, Kerr made false bookings with the victim’s spa business with intent to cause her loss.

High-cost treatments

He would phone for appointments using a fake name, booking specific and high-cost treatments, which required the victim to bring in additional staff.

However, no-one would turn up.

The continuation of the behaviour, particularly following on from the previous conviction, left the victim and her family deeply upset and troubled.

She reported the matter, and Kerr was later traced and arrested, denying all charges until the last minute.

A defence barrister contended the court’s time had been saved by his client’s guilty pleas, and that the victim was spared the trauma of giving evidence, although she was in attendance to do so.

Waived right

He advised Kerr wished to waive his right to a pre-sentence report, and Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers felt there was benefit in proceeding with the case straightaway, taking in account current Covid-19 difficulties and the fact all parties had attended court.

Addressing Kerr directly, Judge Ievers said: “I don’t know what has driven you to behave as you have, but it’s a terribly sad fact that, as a mature man, the only matters you have on your record relate to your behaviour against this victim and her family.

“It’s a very sorry state ... you were previously given a suspended sentence and restraining order, which are very significant disposals.”

She continued: “On the one hand, you responded to that and stayed away from these people, but it’s an incredible disappointment that you didn’t learn from that lesson and continue to stay away.

“This behaviour started up again and caused heartache as well as financial and other loss.

“The obvious thing is immediate custody, but you have accepted responsibility.”

The judge felt a comprehensive sentencing package would be more beneficial and allow Kerr “to continue to behave in society and continue to stay away from this victim and her family”.

A sentence of four months’ imprisonment was handed down, suspended for three years, along with a restraining order of five years.

Kerr was also ordered the defendant to pay £500 compensation.