A WOMAN avoided jail after sending a barrage of hateful messages to a transsexual.

Katie Elizabeth Irvine, 32, of Ship Street, Barrow, set up a fake Facebook profile to send a string of expletive-ridden messages to Lucy English in March this year.

Lee Dacre, prosecuting, said: "The victim was returning home from hospital when she received the first of the messages. They were directed at her gender change.

"Irvine sent the messages because she knew it would upset the victim.

"Since the incident she's had sleepless nights and has suffered a lack of confidence and become more depressed."

When questioned about her actions prior to being sentenced, Irvine, herself a member of the town's LGBT community, said: "I've got no idea why I've done this. She was just trying to get to my friends and I wanted to hurt her.

"These friends are like my family. I apologise to her and I've seen her in town since and avoided her. I will never do this again to anyone.

"I regret my actions. I've got nothing against her per se."

District judge Gerald Chalk said: "This is not just abuse. It is a particularly sensitive time for her.

"You must have known the words you chose and the language you used were designed to hurt."

After pleading guilty to harassment without violence earlier in the month, Irvine was sentenced at Furness Magistrates Court on August 23 to 42 days in prison, suspended for 12 months.

A restraining order was also made to avoid contact with the victim for two years. She must also pay a victim surcharge of £115 and £85 court costs.