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Poison pen 'I am sorry for writing the sick sex abuse letters'

Gary O'Donovan (41) sent 26 letters to cops and local businesses claiming his innocent relative was abusing his own kids

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‘I’m sorry’: Gary O’Donovan escaped a prison term when the judge suspended his sentence for penning the vicious letters

‘I’m sorry’: Gary O’Donovan escaped a prison term when the judge suspended his sentence for penning the vicious letters

Poison pen: : Our man confronts Gary O’Donovan

Poison pen: : Our man confronts Gary O’Donovan

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‘I’m sorry’: Gary O’Donovan escaped a prison term when the judge suspended his sentence for penning the vicious letters

THE author of a series of 26 anonymous poison pen letters, in which he falsely accused a relative of sexually abusing his own children, says he did it because he was going through a 'difficult period' in his own life.

Clonmel man Gary O'Donovan this week told the Sunday World he was 'sincerely sorry' for sending the letters, which defamed his relative to his family, the gardai, Tusla and a number of local businesses.

In the horrific series of 26 letters, O'Donovan falsely alleged the man was abusing his children on the instructions of his [the man's] wife.

On Tuesday, O'Donovan (41) pleaded guilty when he appeared before Skibbereen District Court to harassing his innocent relative over a 10-day period between March 10 and March 20, 2015.

He escaped jail, however, after Judge James McNulty suspended a six-month sentence on condition O'Donovan now writes a comprehensive letter of apology to the victim to be delivered to him by gardai.

Approached by the Sunday World at his Clonmel home on Thursday, O'Donovan said both he and his family 'had been embarrassed' after details of his crime became public.

"I have apologised and I am sorry for what I did.

"I'd prefer if you didn't report on this.

"I have apologised in court and I don't have any previous convictions or anything like that.

"I will at some stage be making inquiries to see how I can have the articles [about the case] removed because it is possible to have reports removed from Google.

"It is embarrassing for me and my family as well! I wasn't mentally well at the time and I have made reparations to the best of my ability … and I am writing the letter of apology."

Asked whether he intended to write to all the businesses and other parties he sent the defamatory letters to, O'Donovan said: "No, just to [the victim] and his family, I am going to do what I was asked to do.

Flowers

"I am [sorry] and that is expressed deeply."

During Tuesday's court sitting Sgt Paul Kelly said O'Donovan had sent a total of 26 letters, two bouquets of flowers and four sympathy cards - containing the allegations the man was abusing his children on the instructions of his wife.

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Poison pen: : Our man confronts Gary O’Donovan

Poison pen: : Our man confronts Gary O’Donovan

Poison pen: : Our man confronts Gary O’Donovan

The couple were both branded as paedophiles in the letters.

One of the letters, the court heard, had an image of a Palestinian flag on it, while one of the bouquets also contained a flag of Palestine.

The correspondence also threatened the couple that they would be 'wiped out' by the Palestinian movement, the court was told.

Sgt Kelly told the court it appeared O'Donovan's motivation was to 'name and shame' his victim.

After the victim notified gardai, the letters were tracked to O'Donovan and he was arrested.

The court heard O'Donovan admitted his guilt but later emigrated to Australia.

O'Donovan's victim, who had chosen not to attend the proceedings, had furnished the court with a victim impact statement.

He said the campaign of letters had taken place over a six month period in 2015.

In the letter, he wrote: "I am aware Gary has serious mental health problems … all I wish for in this case is for Gary to say he is sorry for all the hurt to my family for all the hurt he has caused and I hope he can sort out his mental health problems."

Judge McNulty noted that O'Donovan had gone for counselling.

Solicitor for O'Donovan, Colette McCarthy said her client had had a troubled childhood.

She said he could not explain why he targeted his relative with the false allegations.

He had little contact with him over the years and had no reason to bear any grudge against him, she told the court.

Her client, she said, had got an idea and become focussed on it, even though it has no basis in fact.

She added that O'Donovan had expressed remorse when interviewed by gardai.

She suggested adjourning the matter to allow him undergo further psychological assessment.

Judge Nulty inquired as to what efforts O'Donovan had gone to in the years since the letters were sent to redeem his victim's reputation.

The judge continued that O'Donovan's victim was "humiliated in his community by the delusional and malicious actions and communications of your client."

Victim

Judge McNulty said that O'Donovan had allowed "this dark allegation" against his relative to circulate for five years.

O'Donovan told the court he had apologised to the gardai who interviewed him in 2015 and had asked them to pass on his apologies to his relatives.

He said he had promised never to make contact with his relative and would never return to Cork once the court case was finalised.

Judge McNulty sentenced O'Donovan to six months in jail but suspended it on condition that he write a comprehensive letter of apology to the victim to be delivered to him by gardai.

O'Donovan was further ordered to keep the peace for a period of two years.