Published: 00:01, 08 December 2016
A former Jehovah’s Witness has been banned from visiting any of the organisation’s Kingdom Halls in the UK – or face going to jail.
Derek O’Hare has led a campaign against the religious group in Dover and Deal after an acrimonious bust-up a couple years ago.
The father-of-two harassed a Jehovah’s Witness, posted leaflets through his door, shouted at him in the street...and even followed him into a police station.
Now a judge has told him to “grow up”– and stay away from members of his former religion and the places they worship.
Judge James O’Mahony told O’Hare, who has previous convictions for battery and causing criminal damage: “This must be the end! You are old enough to realise, for heaven’s sake, that your actions cause harassment.
“It is perfectly proper to have strong religious views but you should have regard for the feelings of other people.
“And you don’t have a profile of a deeply committed peaceful campaigner; you resort to violence and the threat of violence when it suits you and you have caused your victim psychological damage by your actions.”
O’Hare, 59, of Beaufoy Road, Dover, pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated harassment and was given a nine month sentence suspended for two years.
Wayne Cranston-Morris, prosecuting, told how in 2015 the former English Channel emergency patrol officer had used a loudhailer to shout at members of the faith who were standing in the street next to their literature stand.
On another occasion he forced one Witness to flee in to a bank to escape the abuse before going to the man’s house to post leaflets through his letterbox.
The prosecutor said he had also been seen standing outside a Kingdom Hall in Deal with a banner. He added: “O’Hare was a Jehovah’s Witness but left the organisation in 2013 and holds very strong views about it.”
John Fitzgerald, defending, said O’Hare had parted company with the organisation “on acrimonious terms” and he was disfellowshipped – meaning he was ostracised by other members.
“He found it difficult to swallow and they kicked him out. For him this wasn’t mindless religious abuse. He didn’t want to cause pain, suffering, alarm and distress. It wasn’t done out of malice.”
O’Hare, whose wife is a Jehovah’s Witness, was told to pay £500 costs and ordered to stay away from all Kingdom Halls and places where JWs attend.
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