'despicable crime' Vegetable man stalked single mum and sent vile messages of sexual nature
Woman 'feared for her life' in 4-month harassment ordeal
This is the vegetable delivery man who befriended a single mum before secretly stalking and harassing her in what a judge called "a despicable crime".
Eamon Byrne (59) sent vile text messages of a sexual nature to Amy Dunne (30) from unknown numbers and started leaving vegetables and washing powder on her doorstep, putting her in fear of her life and safety.
He has been given a four-month suspended sentence for harassing and stalking Ms Dunne.
The defendant, of Beechwood Drive, Marley's Lane in Drogheda, Co Louth, pleaded guilty to harassing Ms Dunne over a four-month period from August 2016 to November 2016.
Byrne and Ms Dunne had met when he started to deliver vegetables to her home and they became friends.
Sergeant Ray Brady told the court the defendant became the young mum's confidant.
"But then vegetables started to turn up on the doorstep with no note," said Sgt Brady.
"Byrne then began to turn up at her house when her child was home from school, offering her lifts.
"Ms Dunne started to receive anonymous messages of a sexual nature, about her underwear, being a lone parent. The messages were always sent at night time.
"Ms Dunne started to confide in Byrne and sought advice from him, but on the other hand he was the one sending the anonymous texts and vegetables."
Ms Dunne reported the messages to gardaí as she was in fear of her life and safety.
Following an investigation, the defendant was identified as the suspect and admitted what he had done.
During the investigation, gardaí had to seek help from UK police due to the defendant destroying sim cards and buying credit from a UK mobile phone company.
In her victim impact report, Ms Dunne told the court that Byrne came into her life as a vegetable delivery man who was old enough to be her grandfather.
"I had a boyfriend at the time but then he would turn up everywhere when this relationship ended," Ms Dunne said.
"He made me feel like I depended on him, like a father figure."
Ms Dunne said the text messages always came at night and mentioned she was alone and spoke about some of her movements during the day.
"I lost trust and confidence and he was offering his help, telling me not to report it to gardaí as it would be a waste of time."
Ms Dunne said when gardaí told her it was Byrne who was harassing her and sending the vile messages she said she was "absolutely shaken".
"I felt like throwing up. He portrayed himself as a person I could depend on," she said, adding that since he was exposed as her harasser she has not been able to sleep easy, and is suffering from anxiety.
"I find it difficult to trust anyone now. This has affected my personal relationships. I believed he groomed me and had a plan," she said.
"I am a vulnerable, single woman with no father figure. He made me feel like I was dependent on him, like a father figure.
"I lost my sense of freedom because of what he has done."
A Probation Report was handed into court but a part of the report concerned Judge Erin McKiernan where Byrne claimed he didn't frighten Ms Dunne as she is someone who "was not easily frightened".
However, he then acknowledged in court that he did frighten her and apologised.
"I am really sorry. I do understand the bad effect it had on her. I would like to say it did happen and will never happen again in 100 years," Byrne told the court.
"I was angry at the time, she owed me money but I didn't put that in my statement.
"I am sure she was devastated and still is but it is unlike me to do anything like this again."
Defence solicitor Patrick Goodwin handed in letters from Byrne's doctor outlining his health issues.
Judge McKiernan said the crime was very serious and "absolutely despicable".
"It's a double whammy - she confided in you," said Judge McKiernan, "and you attempt to justify it with the Probation Services."
The judge imposed a four-month sentence but "because of the passage of time" since the offences she suspended the sentence for one year.
"I am not impressed with you at all," the judge told the defendant and ordered he have no contact with Ms Dunne for 12 months.