SENDING an offensive message to a woman on Facebook led to a man being handed a restraining order.

Tomas Kai Downing appeared before South Cumbria Magistrates' Court in Barrow, where he admitted to sending a message of an offensive nature on the social media site while on licence from prison.

Magistrates heard the victim woke up to the message from the 21-year-old defendant sent on Facebook messenger from an account called Tommy New on May 24.

Prosecutor Peter Kelly said: "She believed the message came from the defendant Mr Downing."

Mr Kelly said the message, which was not read out in court, related to an 'upsetting' allegation made about a close family member of the victim, which she does not accept.

He said the messaged left the woman feeling 'heartbroken', 'scared' and 'harassed'.

"She was aware Mr Downing had a large following on social media and the message could cause ramifications for her in her place of employment," he said

"She is worried about running into him in Barrow."

The court heard Downing was on licence from prison for an offence that led to him being given a restraining order against a woman in 2019, but had been given a written warning by the probation for the new offence instead of being recalled to prison.

Michael Graham, defending, said Downing had been drinking at the time of the offence and the message was sent 'in frustration'.

He said Downing had made progress and was due to undertake a course that would lead to him being employed by Platinum Rail Services.

Mr Graham said Downing had now moved away from his home in North Row, Barrow, to Euston Road in Morecambe.

Chairman of bench Chris Harris sentenced Downing to 100 hours of unpaid work for the offence.

Downing was also ordered not to contact the woman by any means for the next 12 months.

Magistrates also handed down a £90 victim surcharge and £85 in court costs.