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Dublin blogger and actor accused of online campaign of harassment against CBeebies presenter

Blogger, comedian and actress Frances Winston, 45, is accused of harassing CBeebies star Ferne Corrigan online.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A DUBLIN WOMAN accused of a social media harassment campaign directed at a BBC children’s television presenter has been given two months to decide how she will plead.

Blogger, comedian and actress Frances Winston, 45, is accused of harassing CBeebies star Ferne Corrigan online.

At her second hearing today before Judge Michael Walsh at Dublin District Court she was given a warning, sought by gardai, to remind her she had to obey a bail condition banning her from contacting Corrigan on social media.

Winston, who has an address at Rathgar Road, Dublin 6, was ordered to appear again in two months when she will be expected to enter a plea.

Defence solicitor Colleen Gildernew told the court she did not think the bail term had been breached technically but she took no issue with the warning being given to her client.

Disclosure of evidence, including typed statements, was ordered.

She faces 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 19 February 2016 and 20 May 2017, at various unknown locations she harassed Ferne Corrigan.

At her first hearing in September, Detective Sergeant Jonathan Kelly told the court Ms Winston, was charged at Irishtown Garda station after which “she made no reply”.

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 at 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 had accepted jurisdiction.

Detective Sergeant Kelly told the court it was alleged, “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 had 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.”

The defence solicitor had 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 has also warned that if Winston were foolish enough to make contact it could lead to further charges.

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”.

She was also told to reside at her current address and she had to give gardai her phone number.

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

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

Winston was cast to play murder plotter Sharon “Lying Eyes” Collins in a 2017 TV3 reconstruction of that case.

Comments are off as legal proceedings are ongoing.

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Tom Tuite

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