Paul Moody: His conviction has seriously damaged the reputation of An Garda Síochána

Garda used his position to find information about the woman so he could portray himself as her ideal partner before launching campaign of abuse

Paul Moody beat the woman he had met online again and again, once leaving her to crawl out a window for help. Photograph: Collins Courts

Much of the abuse sent by Paul Moody, a serving garda, to his victim during their four-year relationship is unprintable on the grounds of decency.

At one point he told the woman, who was suffering from terminal cancer, to kill herself. Another time, he texted to say he hoped she was raped. Mocking her illness and talking about her death were frequent themes.

As the texts were read out during his sentencing hearing, Judge Martin Nolan, who described Moody as a “a bully and a disturbed man”, raised his hand to indicate he did not want to hear any more.

But even the sometimes stomach churning messages paled in comparison to Moody’s actions.


The 42 year old stole the woman’s prescription cancer medication, knowing she could not afford to replace it. He also stole her hospital bag as she was travelling in for treatment. When she was in hospital he told her during a visit he was only there to watch her “bleed to death”.

He took secret photos of her naked and threatened to post them online. He beat her again and again, once leaving her to crawl out a window for help. In a voice message he threatened to stick a knife in her.

During their relationship Moody sent more than 30,000 messages, the equivalent of two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. In one 14-hour period, in July 2018, he sent 652 messages, or one every 90 seconds.

There are elements of the case which cast An Garda Síochána in the worst possible light. At the start of the relationship, Moody used his position to find out information about the woman so he could portray himself as her ideal partner.

Later he looked up her friends on the Pulse system and threatened to blackmail them with the information he found. As a result, the victim has been left with a fear of seeing a garda on the street or even passing a Garda station.

One important detail perhaps goes some way towards mitigating the damage to An Garda Síochána’s reputation.

Once detectives learned the woman was being abused by Moody, they aggressively pursued the investigation and did all they could to encourage her to come forward.

Garda jailed for coercive control of terminally ill partner over four-year periodOpens in new window ]

Moody’s defence described his otherwise exemplary 20-year service in the Garda. Given the scale and horrendous nature of his offending against the woman, questions will now surely be asked about just how perfect was this service.

Colleagues spoke on Tuesday of a vain man, “a guy who loved himself” and an “arsehole”. One described throwing his eyes up to heaven when Moody walked into the station one day with his hair dyed blonde and heavily styled.

“A seriously sharp dresser” and “very, very fashion-conscious” was how Moody’s friend described him in a 2013 interview. “Paul doesn’t have a temper, there’s not an aggressive bone in his body, he’s generous to a fault, a great supportive friend,” he added.

Moody, of course, was no stranger to the Criminal Courts of Justice before his arrest in 2021. Perhaps his most prominent arrest was of two men who drunkenly sailed a yacht up the Liffey in 2017, disrupting the shipping lanes.

The unusual case garnered a significant degree of attention and Moody made sure the television cameras caught him coming out of court afterwards. He was then one month into his relationship with the woman.

In the context of Moody’s offending, the sentence of three years and three months appears inexplicably light. But Judge Martin Nolan, himself a former garda, was limited in the punishment he could hand down.

The offence of coercive control, which was introduced in 2019, carries a maximum of five years in prison and the judge was obliged to apply the standard 25 per cent deduction for a guilty plea.

He took another six months off in light of Moody’s mitigation, including his lack of previous convictions and the fact he will face a harder time in prison due to his job.

Many will wonder why, now that he has been convicted and sentenced, Moody remains a garda. Last night, officials at Garda headquarters were waiting on his resignation letter to arrive as this would negate the need to fire him through the disciplinary process.

Either way, Moody’s pension is safe. “The system wasn’t designed for cases like this,” one official said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times