Limavady man is acquitted of harassing convicted sex offender

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
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A man who identifies sex offenders on a social media site has been cleared of harassing a convicted sex offender.

However, a judge at Derry Magistrates Court imposed a six month restraining order on Joseph Gerard McCloskey.

This bans McCloskey from posting anything on social media about the complainant.

McCloskey, of Anderson Crescent, Limavady, had denied harassing the man between April 13 and April 17, last year.

The court heard the complainant pleaded guilty to sex offences when he was 13 years old and received a youth conference order.

He was also convicted of a burglary offence in 2009 and the details of his previous sex conviction was included a court report.

It was alleged McCloskey posted this report some four years later and edited it to suggest the convictions were recent.

However, no evidence was presented to the court in relation to the editing.

The complainant said that comments posted under McCloskey’s post, which suggested he should be shot, hanged or have parts of his anatomy cut off, were threatening and abusive.

He said he was concerned for his safety, was ‘alarmed and distressed’ and reported the matter to the PSNI.

The court heard McCloskey was served with a police information notice and the post was removed. However, he reposted the copy about the complainant three days later.

McCloskey did not give evidence on his own behalf during the hearing.

District Judge Peter King dismissed the charges after the evidence was concluded.

He said he was ‘struggling to accept the concept that it is unacceptable to report something that was already in the public domain’ and he could not be satisfied editing had taken place.

The judge said: “I have some concerns about the unattractive nature of what was published by Mr McCloskey, but it does not fall on the side of criminal liability and there will be a dismissal.”

Judge King then imposed the restraining order for six months.