A Keiraville man who repeatedly stalked a woman following the breakdown of their relationship has walked from court without a conviction.
Joel Zalunardo, a primary school teacher of 17 years, faced Wollongong Local Court on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to stalking, with the magistrate describing the offending as "insidious and repetitive in nature".
Tendered court documents state the victim expressed to Zalunardo, 43, that she wanted to end their relationship in late May.
She attempted to cease contact however Zalunardo wouldn't accept the relationship was over and continuously kept up communication, calling her over 30 times and text messaging 57 on June 7.
He then attended her home uninvited, wanting to speak to the woman. He was asked to leave however remained at the home for 40 minutes, momentarily knocking on the door.
The following day, he texted the woman 65 times, prompting her to tell him to stop. He refused and again went to her home.
This continued the next day as Zalunardo sent another 53 texts, despite the woman again telling him to stop. He then appeared at the victim's friend's house unannounced and left after a short time.
Zalunardo appeared at the victim's home about 1am on June 10 and tried to talk to her.
He refused to leave when asked and started to pick up her belongings and put them in his car. The victim sought help from a witness to get Zalunardo to leave.
Nearby police officers saw the incident and intervened, obtaining a statement from the victim and arresting Zalunardo.
He made admissions at Wollongong police station to sending the victim a barrage of texts and said his behaviour would have made her feel "trapped".
Defence lawyer Matt Ward said Zalunardo's conduct was consistent with his desperation, noting there was no violence.
He added Zalunardo had since taken active steps to address his behaviour and asked the court to consider a non-conviction, however police prosecutor Sergeant Amelia Wall called for a stronger sentence.
"It's 175 texts and over 30 phone calls in the space of three days," Sgt Wall said.
"In my submission, it's not at the lower end of stalking and harassment."
Magistrate Michael Ong acknowledged the amount of unwanted contacts would have been "frightening" for the victim.
The magistrate accepted the stalking hadn't occurred since and that Zalunardo's clean record afforded him leniency.
The court heard the school Zalunardo works at will be investigating the matter, as his working with children's check may be affected.
He was handed a two-year conditional release order without conviction and was ordered to be of good behaviour and comply with any medication and counselling as directed by a health professional.
An apprehended violence order was also put in place for two years.
Read more Illawarra court and crime stories here.
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