Man who harassed six people pleads not guilty but insane

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

A man who harassed six people, including five members of his extended family, has gone on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he has pleaded not guilty but insane.

The 50 year old man is standing trial under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 which states that a jury may return a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity if they believe the accused was not mentally responsible for their actions at the time.

Both the prosecution and defence are asking the jury to return such a verdict. The facts in the case are uncontested and both sides agree the man was mentally ill at the time.

The Dublin man has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to harassment of the six people between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecuting counsel Fergal Foley BL told the jury that the 2006 Act replaced the “Victorian era” verdict of guilty but insane and allows the public to be protected without subjecting a mentally ill person “to the full rigours of the law.”

Counsel said there “was a virtual campaign of harassment” by the accused against the six people. Many threats were issued over the phone and one person, who was a garda at the time, received 530 phone calls from the accused.

Gardaí from four different stations gave evidence of the content of the calls. In one of the calls the accused suggested he was being persecuted by Barack Obama and in another he told the recipient: “you're going to torture and kill me and that's what you've being trying to do to me for the last six years.”

Defence counsel Feargal Kavanagh SC said the accused was picking things up in the media and applying them to his life.

Other calls referenced garda corruption and suggestions that the recipients were involved with criminal gangs in trying to threaten the accused.

Several of the recipients did not immediately report the harassment to gardaí as they hoped the accused would get help before this was necessary.

He told another recipient that “this would end in a bloodbath” and “wouldn’t it look good if I had murder on my CV?” Many of the calls involved the accused breathing down the phone without saying anything.

He also confronted one of the female complainants outside her work and threatened her which prompted her to go to gardaí.

The accused repeatedly called another extended family member and blamed them for losing him a lot of money in property deals after the financial crash.

The trial will conclude today before Judge Sarah Berkeley after the jury hears the evidence of a consultant psychiatrist.

By Conor Gallagher