Dublin man caught spying on neighbours with hidden cameras has house repossessed

Thomas Kelly (70) of Lucan, Dublin, had 16 cameras with live feeds to a TV in his living room — and even watched one neighbour masturbate

Kelly talks to our reporter Alan Sherry

Kelly said he is appealing his four-month suspended sentence

Bailiffs and the county sheriff at Kelly’s house

Paul Lynam, neighbour of Thomas Kelly, in his back garden terrace

Kelly installed 16 CCTV cameras

Alan SherrySunday World

A neighbour from hell who was convicted of harassment after spying on local residents through an array of cameras has had his house repossessed.

Thomas Kelly (70), of Weirview, Lucan, Dublin, escaped a prison sentence in 2018 after being found guilty of the harassment in a court case which heard how he had 16 cameras with live feeds to a TV in his living room — and even watched one neighbour masturbate on his cameras.

Kelly, who until earlier this month owned three houses on the row of 20 overlooking the River Liffey, was given a four month suspended prison sentence in September 2018 and told the Sunday World this week that he was still appealing that conviction more than four years later.

Kelly said he is appealing his four-month suspended sentence

“There is [an ongoing appeal],” he said this week.

Kelly confirmed he was evicted from his home in Weirview last Wednesday week but declined to comment on what was happening with two other properties he owns on the row of 20 houses.

“I’ll leave it at that. If anything happens, I’ll get back to you. Not at the minute, it’s all a bit [up in the air].”

A team of bailiffs and the county sheriff acting on a court order evicted Kelly from the house as it was repossessed, and a number of gardai were present at the scene.

The repossession was not related to his dispute with his neighbours and is believed to have come about due to debts owed by him in relation to the property.

Bailiffs and the county sheriff at Kelly’s house

The home was Kelly’s primary residence and the other two houses are in a state of disrepair.

The Sunday World spoke to Kelly outside one of the other two properties when he visited there this week.

Neighbours are now waiting to find out if Kelly will be moving out of the terrace completely or moving into one of his other houses.

With his creepy array of cameras pointing into adjoining back gardens and homes, he watched one neighbour masturbating while another told how his two children could never open the blinds on their rooms because they were covered by the cameras.

In a separate civil case at Dublin Circuit Court last November, Kelly was sued by six of his neighbours, including journalist John Mooney, Pat Howlett, Paul Lynam, William Stapleton, Pio O’Leary and Edward Roche. They claimed Kelly had secretly bought their back gardens in a deal with Shannon Homes.

Paul Lynam, neighbour of Thomas Kelly, in his back garden terrace

Judge Francis Comerford awarded a total of €52,000 damages against Mr Kelly in respect of his breach of privacy of his neighbours by the use of cameras.

He also ordered Kelly to take measures to safeguard a dangerous cliff face from collapsing into the homes and back garden.

Judge Comerford said some of the people involved in the dispute were born in the houses and Mr Kelly had bought No 14 in 1979 and Nos 11 and 12 since. In 2008, he had acquired documentary title to the open space behind and beside the terrace and the cliff face behind it, as well as land at the top of the cliff.

“The dispute arose because Mr Kelly asserted that none of the others had any ownership in the area surrounding their houses or any right to enter the open area he had acquired behind their homes,” Judge Comerford said.

This had led to tensions on the ground and Mr Kelly had installed cameras to monitor the area, including at the back of or into his neighbour’s properties.

Kelly installed 16 CCTV cameras

The court held that the open areas acquired by Kelly were subject to rights of way for the benefit of other householders and, while Kelly could install gates, they could only be locked by a keypad with all householders entitled to a right of way to their back gardens being given the code.

Judge Comerford decided that Kelly had substantially interfered with the rights of way and he granted injunctions restraining him from any future interference.

The court also found against Kelly in works carried out in relation to the cliff and on the land on top of it which had caused a destabilisation of the area, putting the lives and properties of all householders at risk.

The court found that Kelly was grossly irresponsible in carrying out tunnelling works in the cliff behind the row of houses without expert advice and there had been rock falls.

In 2017, a large boulder rolled onto the rear of Mr Lynam’s property and there had been further rock falls after that.

The court accepted expert evidence on behalf of the parties suing Kelly that remedial measures were necessary.

The court ordered Kelly to pay €55,000 damages to his neighbours in relation to the issue with the cliffs, but said it would not have to be paid if he carried out the installation of a steel mesh apron at the cliff.

Costs were awarded against him.

Kelly has now launched an appeal against that decision in the High Court.

Kelly previously told the Sunday World he disagreed with his criminal conviction.

“No, I don’t accept it,” he said. He added that he did not see himself as a neighbour from hell.

“I disagree... leave it at that,” he added.

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