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lewd messages Sex-text pest who terrorised female neighbour told to move or face prison sentence

Pat Dunne (48) had pleaded guilty at an earlier sitting of Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court to a sample count of harassing his 35-year-old neighbour via anonymous text messages between June 2016 and October 2018

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Pat Dunne

Pat Dunne

Pat Dunne

A man who admitted sending a large volume of lewd, sexual text messages to a female neighbour over a two-year-period has been told he must move away permanently from his home if he wants to avoid going to prison.

Judge Keenan Johnson this week told Pat Dunne (48) of Slieve Bloom Park, Clonaslee, Co Laois, that he should not return to his address if he wants a jail sentence he is facing to be suspended.

Dunne, a single man, had pleaded guilty at an earlier sitting of Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court to a sample count of harassing his 35-year-old neighbour via anonymous text messages between June 2016 and October 2018.

The labourer also pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary of a house in Clonaslee on September 13, 2019, during an incident where a woman woke up to find Dunne rubbing her leg.

Judge Johnson told Dunne in March that he regarded a three-year jail term as the headline sentence for the offence but he adjourned finalisation of the case on condition that the defendant moved out of his council house in Clonaslee and went to live with his mother.

Counsel for the DPP, Will Fennelly BL, this week told the court that Dunne had been living with his mother over the past two months but it was not a permanent solution as he was sleeping on a couch.

The court heard Dunne was trying to find alternative accommodation but it could take some time to arrange.

At the March hearing, Dunne, who was working part-time as a lawn-mower man, was described as having a ‘deviant sexual propensity.’

But when confronted by the Sunday World, Dunne dismissed the seriousness of his actions insisting he was “just having the craic”.

Bizarrely, Dunne then demanded that the village’s pubs, which he said have barred him over his behaviour, allow him back in.

“I was only having the bit of craic with them,” he told our reporter.

“I had one drink too many, that’s all.”

Asked about the incident where he broke into the home of another woman in the estate, Dunne again blamed alcohol, saying: “I didn’t know where I was – I’d drank two bottles of vodka with cans of bull.

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“I hope this isn’t going in the paper. I don’t want my name broadcast over the whole place.

“I don’t want anything to do with f**king women.

“And I want people to let me back in the pubs around the whole place.

“I’m barred out of all the pubs everywhere. That’s what’s wrong with me.

“I’m entitled to go out to a wedding or for a few pints if I want to.

“Barred out of all the pubs and the chippers as well, I want something done about it.”

Earlier, the mum-of-one Dunne subjected to a disgusting campaign of highly-sexualised text messages told us how the anonymous messages had left her in constant fear that she would be attacked.

“I could be sitting here at night and a message would come through saying what he wanted to do to me,” she said.

“And I’d go to bed at night not knowing if I was going to wake up and he’d be here to make it real.”

The Sunday World has seen a number of the highly sexualised and threatening messages sent by Dunne but is not printing them at the victim’s request.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she continued, “I’m a strong woman and well able to stand up for myself and I’m lucky I have good friends here.

“But it wasn’t just messages.

“I couldn’t have a clothesline in the back garden because my clothes kept going missing.

“And if I went out at night I would have to make sure that the lads would walk me back to the house because I didn’t feel safe.

“I could have blocked the number but I thought if I did that then he would simply move on to another woman – and I’m strong so I knew I could handle it.

“But I was afraid if he started on someone else, it could be someone more vulnerable and he could push them over the edge.

“I know in the court they said he is kind of simple.

“But he was smart enough that all through the years he was doing this to me, he used a separate phone that wasn’t registered to him.”

The woman said she went to gardai on a number of occasions to complain about the texts but due to difficulties in tracking unregistered devices, gardai weren’t able to prove Dunne was behind the messages.

“The gardai would come out and talk to him and then it would stop for a couple of months,” she said.

“But then it would kick off again.

“He’d no fear of anyone and he is devious.

“I’ve male friends who spoke with him but it had no effect on him.”

In August 2018, the woman made another complaint to gardai and Detective Garda Gerard Galwey of Portlaoise Garda Station took on the case.

“Ger never let up after he took on the case,” she said.

“He was in constant contact with me and he was brilliant. And thankfully he [Dunne] slipped up.”

The slip Dunne’s victim referred to came in the form of a text message he sent on September 17, 2018.

“Well darling,” he texted. “Are you coming to spend one night with me? It’s my birthday and I’m after winning €140 in the lotto.

“Thinking about you, sweetheart. You sexy thing. Mad about you.”

The text, although incredibly mild compared to others sent by Dunne and seen by this newspaper, would prove to be his undoing.

Det Galwey cross-checked the date against Dunne’s birth cert and knew Dunne was his man.

After Dunne was confronted he admitted using one ‘ready to go’ phone to send messages to the woman, saying he did it after drinking.

But he denied being the author of messages from a second phone.

However, when Det Galwey rang the number, the phone went off in Dunne’s bedroom.

It was submitted at Tullamore District Court that Dunne has a limited IQ while a probation report classified him at a ‘moderate’ risk of re-offending.

“It was a huge relief when he was convicted,” the woman told the Sunday World.

“Maybe he will get a suspended sentence but even if he does and he reoffends, then the sentence will be reactivated.

“And I do believe he will reoffend.”

The woman also said she believes the law needs to be changed so people like Pat Dunne cannot access unregistered mobile phones.

“Nobody should be allowed to buy a mobile phone without identification and without the phone being registered,” she said.

“If that was the case, Pat Dunne could never have done what he did to me.”

Concluding this week’s sitting, Judge Johnson remanded Dunne on continuing bail until October 26 on condition he has no contact with his victim and observes a daily curfew between 8pm and 8am.

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