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No jail for pensioner who sent “poison pen” letters to garda

No jail for pensioner who sent “poison pen” letters to garda

A 72-year-old pensioner who sent a series of threatening “poison pen” letters to a female garda after she issued him with a penalty points notice has avoided a jail sentence.

Patrick McClean, a retired seaman, felt aggrieved after he was issued a fixed fine notice by Garda Claire McGuigan last year.

He went home and wrote six “vile” and “odious” letters that he then sent to her at Raheny garda station, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

McClean, of Thornville Drive, Kilbarrack, Dublin pleaded guilty to harassing Gda McGuigan at Raheny garda station between August 4 and September 29, 2016. He has no previous convictions.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Gda McGuigan said she couldn't understand why someone would send such vile letters to her when she was simply doing her job.

The court heard she had no idea for some time who had written the letters and was fearful they knew where she lived and a device might be put under her car.

Sentencing McClean, Judge Martin Nolan said he made a number of threats against the garda in the anonymous “poison pen” letters, which he described as “obscene and vile” as well as “rambling”.

“It's very hard to imagine why somebody would write such letters over a trivial situation as the receipt of a penalty point notice,” the judge said.

“It's a particularly unusual and vile crime,” he said. “And I don't know what got into Mr McClean.

He noted McClean lived alone and appeared to let his resentment “fester” over the situation before writing the letters.

He accepted he was unlikely to re-offend and said the court would not be justified in sending him to prison at this stage in his life.

Judge Nolan handed down a two-and-a-half year sentence which he suspended in full.

The court heard that shortly after Gda McGuigan issued Mr McClean with the fixed fine notice for a driving offence, he wrote the letters and sent them over a series of weeks to Raheny garda station.

Gda McGuigan became emotional as she described how she initially didn't tell her family about the letters as she didn't want to upset or worry them. She said the letters affected her relationship and her work.

“I'm annoyed I've been made a victim,” she told the court. “It's something that doesn't sit well with me.”

She described McClean as a “disgusting excuse of a human-being”.

“What happened to me makes me a better, stronger person,” she told him.

“All the shame lies solely with you. My life is filled with love and happiness. You may have knocked me off my stride for a period of time, but I will aim to leave here today and not think of your vile, disgusting threats again.”

Fiona Murphy BL, defending, said her client wished to apologise to Gda McGuigan.

She said he was at a loss to explain his behaviour but that he worked hard all his life and felt he was treated harshly by Gda McGuigan in relation to the driving offence.

“He felt aggrieved by the way he was treated, even though he knew Gda McGuigan was doing her job,” Ms Murphy said.

She said McClean had no personal knowledge of Gda McGuigan or where she lived. He made immediate admissions to gardaí and entered an early plea of guilty, the court heard.

“It's sad to see a man in his seventies before the court for the first time,” she said.

Ms Murphy said McClean's actions were a “once-off aberration” and she handed up a psychologist report to the court.