A 24-year-old former employee of the Church of Scientology has failed in his appeal against his conviction for verbally abusing an autism campaigner over the phone.
At a sitting of the appeals court in Skibbereen, Co Cork Judge Helen Boyle said that there was absolute certainty that Nathan Moore of Allenton Park in Tallaght, Dublin had made an abusive call to Fiona O’Leary on December 4th, 2017.
Judge Boyle said that the call which involved “offensive and foul language” had caused distress to Ms O’Leary.
She stressed that there was no doubt as to the identity of the caller and stated that the State case had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Judge Boyle accepted the position of the State Solicitor Malachy Boohig that the call had caused extreme upset to the witness.
Mr Moore, who works as a landscape gardener, apologised profusely to Ms O’Leary and her children for his comments and said that he had matured since the incident nearly four years ago.
He has since left the Church of Scientology and no longer works there.
Ms O’Leary told the court that she was left upset and afraid to leave the house following the call from Mr Moore of Allenton Park in Tallaght, Dublin.
The mother of five recorded the call. Mr Moore was heard identifying him before referring to Ms O’Leary as a “spastic geebag.”
Ms O’Leary, who has autism and also has two children with the condition, said that she was very hurt by the use of the term “spastic.” Mr Moore also told her that he would “box her up and down.” She said she had never heard the term “geebag” and was later told that it referred to private parts.
At the hearing of the case in Bantry in December 2019 the court heard that Ms O’Leary had first contacted the Scientology Centre in Firhouse in Tallaght and gave the name 'Chloe Smith', as she had been concerned about Scientology involvement in an upcoming funfair.
She told the judge that Mr Moore rang her back while she was at home and that the conversation had been pleasant. The call originated from the landline of the Scientology Centre.
Mr Moore told the previous hearing of the case in Bantry District Court that he felt the phonecall was “like an interrogation”. He admitted losing his temper when he rang Ms O’Leary back shortly after the first call after on a mobile phone.
In 2019 Judge James McNulty imposed a penalty of 90 days in prison but said he would consider suspending the sentence if Mr Moore kept the peace for a period of two years and if the Church of Scientology gave an assurance it would pay €10,000 to the Irish Society for Autism.
Defence Barrister, Henry Kelly, today told the appeals hearing that his client was without previous convictions and had not come to garda attention since the incident. He said that his client was a “good individual” who was unlikely to appear before the courts again.
Judge Boyle said that she was prepared to adjourn the case for a year. Mr Moore may be given the benefit of the Probation Act at that point if he “stays out of trouble” in the interim.