News

Goulburn Valley man jailed after harassing ex with 9000 messages

By Monique Preston

A man who sent his ex-girlfriend more than 9000 text and social media messages in 24 days — including 500 on her 18th birthday — has been jailed for three months and ordered to complete a community corrections order.

The Goulburn Valley man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday for using a carriage service to harass and three charges of contravening a bail condition which said he was not allowed to contact the victim.

The court heard the 20-year-old sent his girlfriend more than 9000 text messages between July 18 and August 8 last year, despite her having blocked his phone number and social media accounts.

On August 28 a family violence intervention order against the man was granted by the court as the woman did not want any more contact from him.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Caitlin McLeod told the court the man rang the woman three weeks later and apologised. Contact then stopped for a month before he started calling and texting her on a private number, accusing her of being on drugs and calling her names, Sen Const McLeod said.

The court was told that in the 15 days from December 1 to 15 last year, the man called the woman a further 574 times and sent her 2508 text messages. During that time he also called her sister three times and her father twice.

Sen Const McLeod said after police arrested the man on December 29 and bailed him to appear in court on January 6, the victim’s sister saw the man’s name show up on the victim’s phone. When her parents checked her iPad, there were Snapchat messages from the man that showed up under another friend’s name.

Sen Const McLean said one of the messages suggested the victim go to the police and drop the intervention order before the man faced court the following day.

The court heard the woman told police the man had contacted her through Snapchat and she had changed his name to her friend’s name because she didn’t want her parents to know he was contacting her again, and that she replied to him every now and again to keep the peace.

She wanted the contact to stop but didn’t know how to make that happen, Sen Const McLean said.

The court heard the man had previously threatened to damage the victim’s car and family home and would prank call her family members if she didn’t respond to him.

Police checks found the man had called his former girlfriend’s phone a further 137 times in 12 days, starting on December 28 — the day after he was bailed.

The court was told the man also breached a community corrections order he was given in August 8 last year for drug trafficking by not complying with the conditions of it.

The man’s solicitor, Luke Slater, said his client “needs to dramatically change his behaviour and accept the relationship is over” — however said the man was “still very young”.

“He’s still a kid in many ways,” he said.

Mr Slater said the woman had spent weeks at his client’s house during a period when he was not messaging her.

He said this was the first time his client had faced court for this type of offending, and suggested the man would not get any rehabilitation from a short prison term.

“I’m not sentencing him for rehabilitation. It is for general deterrence, specific deterrence and denunciation,” Magistrate Fran Medina said.

“Your offending is a flagrant disregard for an order. I need to send a message . . . family violence offending within the community will not be tolerated.”

Ms Medina sentenced the man to three months in prison as well as an 18-month community corrections order, to start after his prison term ended.

She also re-sentenced him to a further 12-month community corrections order, including 75 hours of community work or program participation, for breaching the earlier community corrections order.