Chalk messages are part of “control” behavior


A man who has harassed his partner by writing chalk messages outside his house must stop his controlling behavior, a judge has said.

Michael James Stirling (32) appeared in Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to three violations of a protection order over the course of four days in March.

He was sentenced to 12 months of intensive supervision and received a stern warning from Judge David Robinson.

“My message to you is that this relationship cannot work on your terms,” he said.

“It is quite clear that the victim has very real concerns about you. This behavior impresses me as being controlling, as if you have a right over who the victim sees and does not see.”

Just weeks after a temporary protection order was issued by family court, Stirling and her partner went their separate ways.

On March 12, days after the breakup, the accused sent the woman messages on Facebook accusing her of seeing another man.

Later he wrote: “I looked at you.”

The victim believed she was being harassed, but Stirling later told police he was not hiding outside the house but was simply trying to provoke a confession from the woman.

Two days later, he contacted her again.

The woman did not respond, he said he would be at her house in two minutes.

Hours later, the victim found a chalked message outside her front door saying “hello” followed by her name.

There were smiling and sad faces above the writing, the court said.

Stirling went further earlier the next day, throwing a stone through the victim’s garage window.

She was awakened by the crash and thought she saw a torch shining from outside in her room.

Police found Stirling nearby.

His lawyer, Andy Belcher, said the behavior was “a little strange, maybe harassing”, but stressed that there was no physical violence or threats of violence.

That was not the problem, the judge said.

“There is that psychological element,” he said.

Mr Belcher told court the victim sent several emails to his client after charges were laid, but Stirling had “not taken the bait”.

They remained a “high risk family” according to a report.

Along with the intensive surveillance, Judge Robinson added the “sting” of 100 hours of community service and ordered him to pay $ 120 for the broken glass.


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