Mary O’Neill’s attempt to take a private prosecution of her neighbour over a Facebook friend request was thrown out. (File photo)
A judge who had spent a long day listening to cases involving serious violence, domestic assaults and mental health issues gave short shrift to a woman wanting to prosecute her neighbour over a Facebook friend request.
Judge Russell Collins said it was a trivial matter and it would be an abuse of court process to even have it heard.
Napier woman Mary O’Neill alleged neighbour Peter Malcouronne had made the friend request and it was breach of the restraining order he had been subject to at the time.
It is the latest development in a long-running ‘’neighbours at war’’ saga between O’Neill and her neighbours.
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O’Neill has conducted a prolonged campaign against Malcouronne, his wife and children, since they moved in to their Shakespeare Rd house in mid-2018.
In mid-2019, Judge David Harvey issued restraining orders against both of them. Malcouronne successfully appealed that decision and the restraining order against him was removed. The order against O’Neill remained in place, with High Court judge Justice Karen Clark describing her as “the indisputable and relentless harasser”.
Within days of Justice Clark’s decision coming out, O’Neill served Malcouronne with a summons alleging that he had breached the restraining order against him.
With neighbour disputes on the rise, it might just be time to bring over that batch of scones. (First published October 2017)
She alleged that Malcouronne had sent her a Facebook friend request on May 28 last year.
Malcouronne had no knowledge of making the friend request.
When the matter came before Judge Collins in Napier District Court on Wednesday afternoon, he appeared wholly unimpressed and said it was “difficult to conceive, in the job I do, a more trivial matter”.
Even if the charge went to a hearing, Malcouronne would only have to prove he had made a “keyboard error” in order to have it thrown out.
“The allegation is so trivial that asking it to occupy the time of the court is an abuse of process … The district court is under huge pressure to provide hearing time for far more serious matters,” the judge said.
“We are dealing on a daily basis with people who have mental health issues, addiction issues, inter-generational deprivation … to deal with a prosecution such as this … I fail to see there is anything in it for the private prosecutor other than a tit-for-tat allegation. For those reasons the charge is dismissed,” Judge Collins said.