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Man who stalked ex for six months gets suspended sentence

court genric gavel.jpg
court genric gavel.jpg

A Tipperary man who stalked and harassed his former girlfriend for over six months in an attempt to rekindle their relationship has been given a suspended sentence.

David Nevin (40) sent text messages to Patricia Dardis, phoned her, emailed her, sent faxes to her office, hand-written notes to her home, turned up at her place of work and home, and at one point tried to contact the CEO of the firm where she worked.

Nevin of Terryglass, Nenagh, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to harassment of Ms Dardis from August 2012 to February 2013 at locations in Dublin.

Judge Martin Nolan had remanded Nevin in custody in early May to “think about his position” and today sentenced him to three and a half years but suspended it in full.

Gerry Charlton BL, defending Nevin, said that unsurprisingly, his client had not liked his period of almost six weeks in jail and had asked his counsel to reiterate his apology to Ms Dardis in court.

Nevin has a previous conviction for harassment of another former partner from Cork Circuit Criminal Court in May 2011 for which he was bound to the peace.

Judge Nolan said that Ms Dardis had suffered significant emotional trauma because of Nevin's behaviour which he said was “totally wrong”.

“To put it at its very mildest, he doesn't take rejection well,” said the judge, who warned Nevin that if he reoffended he would go to prison for a very, very long time.

Judge Nolan ordered Nevin to be of good behaviour for three and a half years, and in no way to contact or attempt to contact, or be in the presence of, Ms Dardis.

Nevin was also ordered to hand over the sum €1000 to court within one week, which he had offered as a token of his remorse.

Judge Nolan said if Ms Dardis did not wish to accept this money, it would go to the Rape Crisis Centre.

Garda Sonia Skelly told Anne Marie Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that Nevin contacted Ms Dardis on a daily basis and on some occasions he had tried to communicate with her 40 times in one day.

Ms Dardis was in a relationship with Nevin from March 2010 until January 2011 and she had helped him secure finance for a car during that time. When the relationship ended loan repayments were being deducted from her account and she contacted Nevin in order to get it repaid.

He initially didn’t repay her and she contacted the gardaí but she withdrew the complaint when she received some money back.

Ms Dardis was out of the country in April 2011 when Nevin contacted her to say he had been diagnosed with cancer. He picked her up from Dublin Airport and she agreed to let him stay with her.

The relationship resumed for a short time but ended again in June 2011 when Ms Dardis told Nevin she wanted no further contact.

Gda Skelly told the court Nevin began to harass Ms Dardis in August 2012. He used four phones and two different email addresses.

She outlined the content of some of the messages which said “ignore me and see what will happen”; and another which said “I’ll screw you up good and proper”. Other messages said he wasn’t going away.

Gda Skelly said Ms Dardis’s work and life in general had been greatly affected. She is still afraid to answer phone calls from unidentified numbers.

She agreed with defence counsel that Nevin has not made contact with Ms Dardis since his arrest two years ago.

Mr Charlton handed a psychological report into court and said Nevin had been attending a counsellor.

Gda Skelly told the court that the harassment took the form of missed calls and emails with abusive content which made demands and threatened Ms Dardis that Nevin would come to her work and embarrass her if she didn’t agree to meet him in a specific place at a specific time.

On one occasion she was in a pub with friends when Nevin walked past her table and left a post-it note on it. Ms Dardis saw him and followed him outside where Nevin accused her of lying to him about where she was. She told him she didn’t want any further contact with him.

He sent a fax to her office and left a handwritten note into her letterbox at home saying he had called at a certain time and would return.

Gda Skelly said on one occasion Nevin agreed to meet Ms Dardis outside her work place in order to give her money for the loan repayments.

He didn’t turn up at the agreed time but later followed her and rang her mobile phone while he was doing so. When she ignored the call, he ran ahead of her and blocked her path.

They began to argue and a man who had been jogging nearby came to her assistance.

Nevin then began to show up at Ms Dardis’s workplace. She had told the security guard and receptionist staff about the unwanted contact from him and advised them to tell Nevin she wasn’t in.

At one point Nevin went around the back to a carpark at her workplace, took a photo of her car and sent it to her by email to prove he knew she was there.

Gda Skelly said that the visits to Ms Dardis’s workplace escalated from two to three per week, to two to three times per day.

In January 2013 Nevin arrived at Ms Dardis’s home and said he wanted property returned to him. He said he wanted to start up their relationship again but she informed him that this wasn’t going to happen.

Ms Dardis then drove away but Nevin followed. She then received 26 messages from him, some of which were voicemails.

Gda Skelly said Nevin was ultimately arrested and interviewed after Ms Dardis made a complaint to gardaí.

She said he initially claimed in garda interview that he had done nothing wrong, that Ms Dardis had failed him and made a fool of him. He said his communication with her had not been that intense and didn’t accept he had harassed her.

Nevin finally accepted he had been wrong. He said he was sorry and said he had been disappointed that he couldn’t salvage their relationship.

By Sonya McLean