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Dublin woman charged over alleged campaign of social media harassment against BBC presenter

The woman is alleged to have used “various social media platforms” to harass the CBeebies presenter.

A 44-YEAR-OLD Dublin woman has appeared in court accused of carrying out a social media harassment campaign directed at a BBC children’s television presenter.

Blogger and actress Frances Winston is accused of harassing CBeebies star Ferne Corrigan online and was remanded on bail with strict conditions today after appearing before Judge Michael Walsh at Dublin District Court.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Kelly told the court Winston, who has an address at Rathgar Road, Dublin 6, was arrested at 10.36am today morning.

She was charged at Irishtown Garda station after which “she made no reply,” Detective Sergeant Kelly said.

Judge Walsh said she faced a single count under Section 10.1 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act in which it was alleged on an on-going basis between February 19, 2016 and May 20, 2017, at various unknown locations she harassed Ferne Corrigan.

He described the charge as a “very, very serious offence”.

Ferne Corrigan, host of My Pet And Me and Ferne and Rory’s Vet Tales, was not present for the hearing.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed the case should be dealt with in the District Court and not in the Circuit Court, which has tougher sentencing powers.

After hearing an outline of the case against the accused, Judge Walsh accepted jurisdiction.

Detective Sergeant Kelly told the court it was alleged that “the defendant engaged in an online campaign of harassment against a named individual who is not resident in the State, and used various social media platforms to harass this individual in a very public way”.

Judge Walsh asked if they were connected and the Garda said they were not directly linked but he added: “The injured party is the daughter of the defendant’s former partner.”

Defence solicitor Colleen Gildernew asked for a three-month adjournment and applied for disclosure of prosecution evidence.

She successfully resisted the garda’s application for an absolute ban on her client using social media “of any type”.

The judge agreed to her request that the order in relation to using social media would be limited to the injured party.

He also warned that if Winston were foolish enough to make contact it could lead to further charges.

Judge Walsh imposed bail terms sought by Detective Sergeant Kelly stating Winston cannot have any contact with the injured party, or members of her family and her friends, by any means.

He warned her she could not contact Ferne Corrigan and this included social media, emails, “any manner whatsoever”.

Dressed in a navy suit, Winston has not yet indicated how she will plead.

She nodded and answered “yes” when the judge asked if she would give an undertaking not to contact her.

She was also told she had to reside at her current address and give gardaí her phone number on which she can be contacted. She was remanded on bail to appear again on a date in December.

The judge ordered gardai to hand over copies of all the communications which included “various emails” to the defence.

Legal aid was granted to Winston after the judge noted from the defence solicitor that she was “employed but not above the threshold”.

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