A judge was reportedly not empowered to conditionally release a former TÜV council member who violated an injunction against harassing a drag queen, the appeals court heard today.
Attorneys for elven actor Matthew Cavan have raised the legal issue in a challenge to Jolene Bunting’s sentence.
They will argue that she should have received either jail time or a fine.
Northern Ireland’s senior judge, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan, is expected to oversee the appeal later this year.
In September, Ms Bunting received a four-month parole in Belfast District Court for breaching an order to immediately remove a video of Mr Cavan from all social media platforms.
The performer, also known as drag artist Cherrie Ontop, has filed a placement case as part of his harassment protection lawsuit against Ms. Bunting.
In July, she was involved in protests at an arts center in the city where the actor attended a children’s story event in July of that year.
A group calling itself Parents Against Grooming held banners that read “Hands off our kids” in front of the MAC theater.
Mr. Cavan obtained an injunction on August 9 pending the outcome of the broader lawsuit.
The former Belfast City Councilor has been ordered to remove a video of him that has been posted on YouTube and other social media.
However, Ms Bunting initially did not comply with this request and posted another message about the case on her Twitter account.
During the original hearing, she accepted the violation of the order and confirmed that the material was subsequently removed when she sought legal advice.
Mr Cavan said he had lost his job, had been wrongly accused of caring for children and was being prosecuted for posting pedophile hunters.
The actor said he was so terrified that he installed security cameras and lights in his home.
“My anxiety levels are through the roof, I’m having a hard time leaving the house because I’m afraid of what will happen if I do,” he told the court.
“I think she exposed me as a human being, and I got messages … that I should be totally ashamed of bringing a good, godly citizen to justice.”
The district court judge ruled that Ms Bunting’s actions were premeditated, but imposed parole based on her admission and belated removal of all content from social media.
However, Mr Cavan’s lawyers claim that the relevant laws only allow for up to a month’s imprisonment or a maximum fine of £2,500.
At a preliminary hearing at the Court of Appeal today, Dame Siobhan told them: “You have related the path taken by the judge to legality.”
She adjourned the case to next month and asked both sides to conclude arguments on sentencing jurisdiction.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/drag-queens-lawyers-raise-legal-point-over-judges-sentencing-of-former-tuv-councillor-jolene-bunting-in-court-of-appeal-42073005.html Drag queen’s lawyers raise legal point over judge’s sentencing of former TUV councillor Jolene Bunting in Court of Appeal