Man posing as 'whistle-blower' jailed for online postings about garda
A man claiming to be a "whistle-blower" has been jailed for five years for making online postings alleging that a garda was corrupt and unfaithful to his wife.
Sean Carraher (55) began harassing Sergeant Conor Gilmartin because he was unhappy with the way the garda dealt with a complaint he made that his children were being physically abused.
He was convicted earlier this month of posting 58 messages on the websites Rate-Your-Solicitor and Victims of the Legal Profession, alleging, among other things, that Sgt Conor Gilmartin had withheld evidence in a previous case involving the accused. Carraher also made up to 12 harassing phone calls to Sgt Gilmartin.
Carraher of Stradbrook Hill, Blackrock, Dublin had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to harassing Sgt Gilmartin between March 2009 and May 2011. He was convicted by a jury after nearly six hours of deliberation.
He has one previous conviction from 2011 for harassing his wife.
Judge Patrick McCartan said he was imposing the five year sentence to “send out a message to any other that thinks of spreading information that is grossly defamatory”. The maximum sentence for harassment is seven years.
He said Carraher has “all the attributes of a bully” who used “the anonymity of one-way traffic of the internet” to make the allegations of corruption despite not having “one whit” of evidence to support them.
The judge said Carraher had “not spoken one word of sorry or one word of regret” since the trial began and he “still carried with him the obdurate view to do what he wishes”.
He said it was “very disturbing to read” what Sgt Gilmartin was subjected to given he was a public servant and “doing no more than his duty”.
In a victim impact report Sgt Gilmartin said Carraher's actions were well planned to humiliate him and his family. He said his wife feared for her safety when he was out of the house and he felt his standing in the local community had been diminished.
The trial heard the phrase “Conor Gilmartin is the most corrupt garda...” was one of the first results when the garda's name was searched for on Google. Most of the posts are still online, the court heard.
Sgt Gilmartin said he and his wife had to delete all their social media accounts because of the harassment as well as a charity web page he had set up to raise money for a Cystic Fibrosis organisation. They also had to ask extended family members to delete their names from a family genealogy site.
The victim said he was worried about his future job prospects because employers might look him up online. He said it was very difficult to listen to the accused continually refer to him in court as “corrupt Sgt Conor Gilmartin” and he felt like he was the one on trial.
Prosecuting counsel James Dwyer BL said Carraher said in garda interview that he was using his constitutional right to freedom of expression to expose garda corruption. No findings of wrongdoing have been made against Sgt Gilmartin.
Mr Dwyer said in 2009 Carraher's wife made allegations against him regarding “domestic violence issues, harassment and things of that nature.”
In turn Carraher said he was being kept from his children and that they were being physically abused.
He made a complaint to gardaí and claimed Sgt Gilmartin had been “extremely rude and patronising” to him and said he had no intention of investigating the complaint.
Carraher said he made a complaint about Sgt Gilmartin. He said after this the sergeant launched a campaign of harassment against him. He said he was frequently arrested for no reason and claimed the sergeant withheld or altered evidence relating to another court case.
This is when he began making the harassing phone calls and internet posts.
Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC said Carraher co-operated with gardaí on arrest and had not posted about the victim since 2011. He said he now had a better relationship with his former partner and had access visits to his children.