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'You'll never see your daughter again,' ex yelled at schoolgirl's mum

A SCHOOLGIRL whose former boyfriend forced her into a car and told her mother she would 'never see her daughter again', has told of her ordeal.

Jessica Morrissey (18) was speaking after the man she ended a relationship with was jailed for 18 months for harassment, assault and larceny.

Francis Byrne (23), of Chapel Lane, Aughrim, Wicklow, denied assaulting Jessica and stealing her phone on January 19, but admitted harassment by texting and now intends to appeal the convictions.

Bray District Court heard how Byrne forced Jessica into his father's car, which he had taken, and drove her around the Wicklow area while she frantically tried to contact her parents and flee.

Jessica said that when she left Colaiste Craobh Abhann in Kilcoole, Byrne was waiting in his car. "He told me to get in and I said no, that I was going home. But he shouted at me to get in," Jessica told the Herald.

"We had broken up the previous May but he couldn't accept it. He kept texting and ringing, and when I changed my numbers he was leaving messages on Facebook. It just didn't stop," she added.

Jessica said she tried to disable the car by pulling up the handbrake and knocking it out of gear, but Byrne said he wanted Jessica to come to Aughrim to explain to his father why he had taken his car.

Angry

"I texted my mother but he grabbed the phone off me," she said. "His mood kept changing from calm to angry, he would be saying sorry and asking me to get back with him, and then he would be shouting and saying he was going to burn my house down and drive off a cliff," Jessica explained.

Jessica's mother Debbie said that when she got a text from her daughter that said "Frank has me", she was filled with fear.

"I just didn't know what to do, I was so worried. I rang Jessica's phone and Frank was shouting 'you'll never see your daughter again'," she said.

Debbie rang her husband Noel and the gardai, but all the while Byrne was driving all around Wicklow and continuing the threats. He then drove to his sister's house in Tinahely, where Jessica fled to a local shop and contacted her dad.

"We had been driving since around half-past one, and it was getting dark at that stage. It must have been five o'clock. It went on for hours," said Jessica.

The defence claimed that Jessica willingly got into the car and agreed to go to Aughrim.

However Judge Murrough Connellan said that "the detail as outlined by Jessica Morrissey is far too great to be disbelieved".

Byrne was also fined €350 for driving without insurance, €100 for having no licence, and a banned from driving for two years and one day.

hnews@herald.ie