Man jailed for abusive texts

Defendant had previous convictions for similar offenses using ICT services

A man who sent threatening text messages to his ex-girlfriend was sentenced to 13 months in prison Monday.

Sven Connor, 34, admitted using an Information Communication Technology service to abuse, threaten and harass a woman with whom he had been in a relationship.

Justice Malcolm Swift pointed out that Connor had three previous offenses involving misuse of an ICT network to harass someone in 2010. He had been fined $500 for each offense.

The latest offending occurred Dec. 23-30, 2014.

Crown counsel Candia James presented photos of various text messages Connor had sent to the woman. These included threats to inject her with HIV blood, to disfigure her for life, and to send others “to f–- her up.”

The judge said it was difficult to think of a more serious example of abuse, threat and harassment using an ICT network. “This was persistent and repeated, and the threats were to use extreme violence, including a gun, acid, and to act against the complainant’s family,” he noted.

He quoted several of the messages that caused the woman to fear for her safety: “Look what you’re doing or die … . Answer the phone before I come there in this rage I have stored up in me … I dying bust my gun in your face …” The messages did not stop until Connor was arrested on some other allegation.

Defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene advised that the charge need not have come to Grand Court except that Connor was originally charged with abduction of the same woman on Dec. 24, as well as two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm. Abduction can be tried only in the higher court, she noted, but in the end that charge was not proceeded with.

Ms. Fosuhene explained that Connor had received messages from the woman as well. If those were available, they would have given a clearer picture of the relationship between the two, she said. Connor had asked for full telephone records, but she understood that police never obtained them.

Connor had said that the woman was abusive to him also. He now pleaded guilty and accepted that his messages would have caused her fear and great concern. He apologized to the court and to the woman for sending the messages, Ms. Fosuhene stated.

Justice Swift referred to the penalty section of the ICT Law. It provides for a maximum fine of $20,000 or two years’ imprisonment plus an order to restrain the defendant from using the ICT service or network as the court sees fit.

The judge considered the persistent nature of this offense and Connor’s previous convictions, which included the other three ICT offenses. He noted that the guilty plea came after a trial date was set. He was therefore unable to give a full discount for the plea.

The appropriate sentence, he said, was 18 months’ imprisonment, but with 25 percent discount that was reduced to 13 months, rounded off. Time in custody for this indictment will count toward the sentence.

The officer in the case had applied for an order for protection against domestic violence, Justice Swift continued.

The order he made was for Connor to stay away from the woman’s residence and any premises frequented by her, not approach within 100 meters of her, and not engage in any direct or indirect communication with her for two years.

As to restraining Connor from using an ICT service, the judge said he had made a finding that the defendant had a propensity to harass and abuse women with whom he consorts.

“I think it would be appropriate to order that the defendant be restrained from using ICT services or ICT networks on this island for a period of two years from today; however, because and only because I can find no provision detailing how such a restraint order would be enforced, and so could not today warn the defendant of the consequences of such a breach, I make no order in respect of that.”

The Crown accepted a plea to common assault on one of the other charges and the judge imposed no separate penalty. The Crown offered no evidence on the second assault charge and a verdict of not guilty was handed down. A charge of threats to kill was left on file.