Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Self-harm threats 'disturbing': magistrate

A man who sent his ex-wife images and messages threatening to cut off his big toe was sentenced to an eight-month jail term suspended for 12 months on Tuesday.

February 20, 2013 4:20am

A man who breached an intervention order five times, including by sending images which appeared to show him severing his toe, was given an eight-month suspended jail sentence in Echuca Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

John O’Toole, 42, of Grong Grong in NSW, pleaded guilty to breaching intervention orders against his ex-wife and her new partner who live in the Castlemaine area.

The court heard Mr O’Toole sent 28 text messages and three picture messages to his ex-partner on three days in June last year, despite an intervention order ruling he was not allowed to have any contact with her unless it was about their children.

Police prosecutor Sergeant David Somerton said among the picture messages were ones that looked like Mr O’Toole was cutting off his big toe.

Other text messages involved swearing and referred to self-harm, and harm to his wife’s new partner, Sgt. Somerton said.

Mr O’Toole was also found guilty of leaving a voice message on his ex-wife’s partner’s phone saying he had just cut off his own toes with a chainsaw and his wife and children would blame the new partner for it.

Mr O’Toole’s lawyer Justine Bowman said while her client had been separated from his wife since February 2010, they had continued their relationship until February or March last year.

However, when Mr O’Toole’s ex-wife began a new relationship, he became angry, fell into self-harming and was suicidal, Ms Bowman said.

‘‘She ceased contact and he got angry and started sending texts,’’ she said.

Ms Bowman said her client had left Castlemaine after the incidents and moved to Grong Grong.

She asked that her client be fined for his wrong-doing, however magistrate Richard Wright opted for the eight-month jail term suspended for 12 months.

‘‘It’s quite disturbing offending,’’ Mr Wright said.

‘‘The threats of harm and the photos you sent would disturb most people.’’

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