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'campaign' Man who went with two other men, all wielding knives, to harass ex, jailed

Mark O'Shea had been making unwanted contact with his ex, including appearing at her house in the early hours

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A man who went armed and accompanied by two other knife-wielding men to his ex-partner's home towards the end of “a campaign of harassment” has been jailed for five years.

Mark O'Shea (41) arrived to the house accompanied by two other men and gained entry after using another woman as a decoy. All of the men were wearing black balaclavas and gloves and were armed with knives.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that this took place within the context of O'Shea making unwanted contact with the victim, contacting her friends and appearing outside her home in the early hours of the morning

O'Shea with an address at Thornton Heights, Inchicore, pleaded guilty to burglary at a location in Dublin City centre on December 19, 2018. He also pleaded guilty to harassment at the same location on dates between October 19, 2018 and December 31, 2018.

He has 44 previous convictions, including convictions for burglary, trespass, criminal damage, handling stolen property, possession of drugs, public order and road traffic offences.

Passing sentence today, Judge Melanie Greally said the burglary was an event which occurred towards the end of “a campaign of harassment” directed towards the victim.

Judge Greally said the harassment occurred in the context of the end of a relationship which left “some level of acrimony between the parties in its wake”. She said the accused “persistently” made unwanted phone contact with the victim and presented outside her home in the early hours.

She said the burglary offence was aggravated by being premeditated, being conducted with the assistance of three others, there being some level of “physicality”, and weapons being presented to intimidate and frighten.

The judge noted she had previously adjourned the case as the accused had been taking part in a residential treatment programme, but this was “somewhat short-lived” and his participation came to an end around two weeks after the court heard evidence.

Judge Greally sentenced O'Shea to six years imprisonment, but suspended the final year of the sentence on strict conditions, including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for 12 months post release.

At an earlier sentencing hearing, Garda Gerard Hanahoe told Kieran Kelly BL, prosecuting, that O'Shea and the victim were in a relationship for around two years, which came to an end in October 2018.

Gda Hanahoe said O'Shea began calling her, sending her texts and appearing outside her home in the early hours of the morning. On one such occasion he had his car's full beams on and the victim could hear him laughing.

On another incident in December 2018, O'Shea pulled up outside her home and then drove up and down her street for half an hour while shouting that the victim was a “rat”. He also contacted her friends and said things about her to them.

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On the date of the burglary in December, the victim was in her home when she heard a knock on her door from a person she knew. This woman indicated she wanted to use “the facilities” and was allowed to do so.

Around 40 minutes later, the victim heard the same woman shouting for help and opened the door. She saw a man wearing a black balaclava and gloves holding onto the woman, flanked by two further men who like the first man were holding knives.

The court heard there was no suggestion that the woman was being held hostage, but was rather used as a decoy to allow access to the house.

The first man walked into the house and looked to see who was there while the other men blocked the front door. This man shouted at the victim, grabbed her by the mouth and pulled down his mask revealing he was O'Shea.

All three men then left the scene.

Gda Hanahoe agreed with Shane Costelloe SC, defending, that his client had abused drugs and alcohol in the past and may have been abusing drugs at the time of his offending.

The garda agreed with counsel that his client was attending at a residential treatment centre and was accompanied in court by his key worker. He agreed O'Shea has not had any contact with the victim since these proceedings began.

Mr Costelloe said his client comes from an “horrendously disadvantaged background”. He said both his client's parents were drug addicts and he was taken into care from a young age.

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