A LURGAN man convicted of harassing six women - including Atomic Kitten singer Liz McClarnon - has apologised to his victims, saying that he is ‘extremely ashamed’.
Robin Duke (34) is banned from contacting the women for life after six restraining orders were slapped on him by a judge in January.
Ms McClarnon spoke publicly at the weekend about how she had been ‘living in fear’ after Mr Duke had threatened to rape her. However, the Lurgan man told the Mail this week that his comments were ‘just talk’ and he would never have hurt her.
Mr Duke said sorry to all six victims describing his behaviour on Twitter as ‘an addiction’.
Asked about a message in which he threatened to rape the singer, Robin said: “I can’t even remember sending it. I was full of drink. I know it is not an excuse. I can’t remember sending it. I’m trying to turn my life around now. I’m hoping to do some work to help combat cyber bullying.”
He said he knew most of the victims as fans of Atomic Kitten.
“One of my friends deleted me on Facebook so I got drunk one night and I sent her a message - I dunno why I did it. I sent her a rude message and she blocked me.
“Then I went on another profile and did it again. I think then she started telling mutual friends what I had done and then they deleted me. I sent them messages as well,” he told the Mail.
He started following Ms McClarnon (32) on Twitter in 2009. “I would send her the odd tweet every now and again. She replied a lot of times. But then I think she found out about the other girls and she blocked me one night. I got mad at her then and sent her messages.
Mr Duke added: “I don’t remember what the messages were because I was drunk a lot of the time. I’m not trying to blame alcohol on it. I did do it and I’m not trying to make excuses because there are none. I went to the police in the end in October 2011. I was worried about how far I could take it.”
“I hope to put this all behind me and turn a new corner,” he said, adding that it had been a bit traumatic, ‘but not as traumatic as for the girls though’.
Ms McClarnon will speak of her ordeal in a forthcoming episode of documentary series, ‘My Secret Past’, to be screened by Channel Five. She is expected to reveal how she suffered from severe anxiety.
The singer told a Sunday paper: “At first it was just compliments, then it turned into over-familiar behaviour. After a while it went into absolute filth and graphic sexual messages. The threats came later.
“He said exactly how he was going to rape me. He was saying it all publicly on Twitter, which made it even more disturbing.
“At first I had no idea who he was. I just thought it was some random weirdo. Then one day he sent me a photo of us together, him with his arm around me. I realised he was one of the old fans that used to follow Atomic Kitten around. That was when I started to panic because I knew if he’d got to me once he could do it again.”
She continued: “It was so scary that at first I just blocked him on Twitter and tried not to think about it.
“I’ve been so scared since it all happened that I won’t let anyone that’s not family or friends into my house.”
Robin is now looking to put his life right. Banned from Facebook and Twitter for three years, he added that he has cut down on his drinking and is attending counselling.
He said he was going through a very low point in his life. “I don’t want to sound like I am the victim here,” he said sharing that he had been drinking too much. “I have learned a very valuable lesson,” he said.
Mr Duke pleaded guilty to six charges of harassment. He was also sentenced to three years probation and a community sex offences programme, as well as drug and alcohol counselling.
He is also subject to restraining orders banning him from contacting his victims for ever.