A MAN who ignored a restraining order by repeatedly sent Instagram messages to his ex-partner has escaped prison "by the skin of his teeth".

Bolton Crown Court heard how Bradley Ellis, who was already subject to a suspended prison sentence for supplying heroin and cocaine, had denied committing five offences of breaching the restraining order but was convicted following a trial.

Andrew Mackintosh, prosecuting, told the Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh, how 26-year-old Ellis's relationship with the mother of his child had ended two years ago and in April 2018, after he was convicted of assaulting her, a restraining order was made banning him from having any contact with her.

But Mr Mackintosh said Ellis repeatedly tried to message the woman, setting up 11 separate Instagram accounts.

"She would block each of those accounts but each time the defendant would set up another to continue communicating with her," he said.

"She changed her username on Instagram on numerous occasions but, according to her, the defendant always found her."

On December 2 last year she received an alert from Instagram saying Ellis was trying to add her as a friend and he sent her a video of himself stating "you're nothing but a slag".

In subsequent days he repeatedly tried to add her as a friend, sending more abusive messages to her and her friends.

His final message stated: "I'll see you Christmas Day - all I'm saying."

Police were contacted and Ellis, of Plodder Lane, Farnworth, was arrested on December 17.

In a victim statement the woman described Ellis' messages as "constant and draining", adding "I just want to move on with my life without worrying if he will attempt to message me every few weeks".

Judge Walsh heard how Ellis is in work and, according to the probation service, had been making good progress on his existing suspended sentence.

The judge sentenced Ellis to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to participate in a domestic abuse programme and 30 days of rehabilitation activities.

"It seems to me it would benefit you, the community at large and, in particular, your former partner, if you were to undertake a domestic abuse programme," he told Ellis.

"I want to make it absolutely crystal clear to you, lest you be in any doubt about this - you've escaped going to prison today by the skin of your teeth."

A further restraining order was made banning him from contacting his victim.