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Dublin taxi driver harassed ex-girlfriend in case of 'unrequited love', court hears

CourtsBy Sunday World
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A taxi driver who harassed his ex-girlfriend of just a few weeks some three years after they broke up was acting under the effect of "unrequited love", a court has been told.

Counsel for Mihail Ghimisli told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today that he is willing to be deported from Ireland if it means he can avoid a custodial sentence for harassing Larina Belova.

Ghimisli (35), originally from Romania but with an address in Castlefield Court, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty to one count of harassing Ms Belova on four occasions between May and July 2014.

Ghimisli has two previous convictions for harassing Ms Belova after the break-up of their brief relationship in 2011. The court heard the pair dated for just a few weeks, but Ghimisli became "obsessed" with Ms Belova.

In a victim impact report, she said she has been living in "constant fear" of Ghimisli. She had to move home, change her job and sell her car in the wake of the harassment.

Garda John Hayes agreed with Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that Ms Belova was driving to a petrol station on May 12, 2014 when she noticed Ghimisli in his taxi driving by her. He made eye contact with her before turning his car around and following her, Mr Baker said.

He followed her to the petrol station and was watching her fill up with petrol when Ms Belova "had the presence of mind" to take a photo of Ghimisli, the court heard. He left the scene shortly afterwards.

He knocked on her house door a few days later but Ms Belova's housemate shut the door in his face and he left immediately.

On July 3, Ghimlisi followed Ms Belova when she was driving to her friend's house. As she was entering the building, he grabbed her by the hand, the court heard. "She managed to get away from him and slapped him in the face," Mr Baker said.

Six days later on July 9, Ms Belova was again at home when she and her housemate heard knocking on the door. Her housemate looked out the window and saw Ghimisli throwing some flowers and a box of chocolates on Ms Belova'scar before leaving the scene.

He has six previous convictions, including for previously harassing Ms Belova.

John Berry BL, defending, said Ghimisli wished to apologise profusely to his victim. "This had a profound effect on her that can't be understated," he said.

He said Ghimisli has been living in Ireland for nine years but he is willing to leave the country if he receives a suspended sentence. He was refused bail earlier this year over garda concerns about his behaviour towards Ms Belova and has found his time in custody to be very hard, the court heard.

"In this particular case, where Ms Belova is very clearly concerned about his ongoing behaviour, a total exclusion would reflect this concern and give the confidence and security which is sought by Ms Belova," Mr Berry said.

Mr Berry said this was "essentially a case of unrequited love". He submitted it was at the lower end of the scale and that Ghimisli was not acting out of "base motives" when he carried out the offence.

Judge Melanie Greally noted there was clearly a "psychological element" to the case. She adjourned the case to Thursday for sentence.

Isabel Hayes