PERSISTENT harassment of a young woman by a stranger saw the culprit handed a suspended six-month sentence.
Judge Olann Kelleher was told that the victim was working in a shop in Cork City and was getting phonecalls over a period of 13 months, including some explicit calls where the caller told her he wanted to have sex with her.
Craig O’Neill, aged 21, of 11 Curraheen Crescent, Bishopstown, had a mild learning difficulty and previously attended Cope Foundation, his solicitor Shane Collins-Daly said.
“He is particularly ashamed of putting her in fear. His own mother died suddenly and this had a huge impact on him. He is now employed and his employer is a great support to him and is standing by him. And the probation service would be willing to work with him,” said Mr Collins-Daly.
Judge Kelleher said of the harassment on dates between November 4, 2017, and December 2, 2018: “This is a very serious case. He picked up her number through social media. He harassed her and masqueraded as a customer.
“This unwanted attention went on and on despite contact with the gardaí, and it had a life-changing effect on her.”
Quoting the victim, the judge said: “It was a life-changing event. Everything changed when he started harassing me.”
The judge noted that she even changed jobs, but the harassment continued in the new job when he turned up in her workplace.
Judge Kelleher imposed a six-month sentence suspended on condition that he would have no contact — direct or indirect — with injured party.
Another condition requires him to comply with probation service directions.
Sergeant John Kelleher said that the young woman left her job at one shop where she was receiving numerous phonecalls from the defendant.
However, sometime after she commenced working at another store, calls started coming through for “the blonde girl” and a description was given of the dress she was wearing.
Sgt Kelleher said staff at this store were all notified about the unwanted phonecalls being made to their new colleague and the young woman who was being harassed felt very distressed that the harassment was continuing at her new job.
The defendant also tried to friend her through Facebook, Sgt Kelleher said.
Gardaí were able to identify him through his phone and they showed the complainant a photograph of him.
On one occasion, she saw this young man on his phone in the shop where she was working.
Even though the defendant did not know where she lived, she felt that he might find out, given that he had discovered her new place of employment.
She stated in her victim impact statement that she was pulling the blinds and locking the doors at her home because of the fear she had.
The young man wrote a letter of apology, which he gave to the gardaí.