A FATHER who harassed his former long-term partner with texts and Facebook messages has been told how close he came to being locked up.

Simon Richardson, of Darlington, has repeatedly tried to make contact with his former partner since they split up in 2012, Darlington Magistrates’ Court was told.

Prosecutor Alan Davison told the court that 25-year-old Richardson continued to make unwelcome contact with the woman despite being the subject of a restraining order.

Mr Davison said: “He sent text and Facebook messages to her, via a friend’s account and other Facebook accounts.

“He has three Facebook accounts and asked a friend to create another, with a view to contacting his ex by Facebook.

“He pleads guilty on the basis that no violence took place, although he therefore breached his order.”

Mr Davison said that Richardson sent a ‘hugely offensive and abusive’ message to the woman on October 30.

On another occasion, the woman was in Darlington town centre with another man when they were approached by Richardson.

Mr Davison said: “He had words with the man she was with and made clear his intentions to her – he issued threats against her parents.

“He said he would ‘wipe the floor with her in court’ – in relation to an upcoming case.”

Stephen Andrews, for Richardson, did not address the court extensively in mitigation after magistrates indicated that they were minded to go along with the sentencing option suggested in the pre-sentence report, which Mr Andrews had intended to ask for.

Richardson, of Headlam Road, admitted harassment and breaching a restraining order.

He was made the subject of a two-year community order, with a supervision requirement, as well as the continuing restraining order, £200 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Chairman of the bench Raj Devgan told him: “I do not know if you realise how close you were to losing your liberty today.

“These offences are serious and persistent – a restraining order is no light matter, it is there to protect the injured party.

“You need to think clearly what you are doing before you do it.

“We are willing to give you an opportunity to work to try and stop this offending behaviour.

“If you breach this order, that is you deciding where you ultimately want to go – that will be losing your liberty.”