Man jailed for harassing RTÉ newsreader Sharon Ní Bheoláin

Conor O’Hora (40) from Portmarnock also convicted of possessing child pornography

Conor O’Hora (40) of Heather Walk, Portmarnock, Dublin has been  jailed for three years for harrassing RTÉ newsreader Sharon Ní Bheoláin. File photograph: Collins Courts.

Conor O’Hora (40) of Heather Walk, Portmarnock, Dublin has been jailed for three years for harrassing RTÉ newsreader Sharon Ní Bheoláin. File photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A Dublin man has been jailed for three years for harassing RTÉ newsreader Sharon Ní Bheoláin and possessing child pornography.

Conor O’Hora (41), of Heather Walk, Portmarnock, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to harassing Ms Ní Bheoláin between March 27th, 2013 and January 7th, 2014.

He further pleaded guilty to three counts of knowingly possessing child pornography on a mobile phone and on a computer hard drive at Station Road, Portmarnock on February 18th, 2014.

The court heard that the harassment involved posting more than 30 modified photos of Ms Ní Bheoláin on a website which could be found through a Google search of her name.

The pornography charges involved knowingly possessing about 100 images of child pornography on a mobile phone and on a computer hard drive at Station Road, Portmarnock on February 18th, 2014.

The court heard that the harassment also involved 39 sexually explicit and violent online conversations between O’Hora and a co-accused.

‘Debasing’

Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan condemned O’Hora’s “insidious form of harassment” and “debasing behaviour”. He handed down a 4½ year sentence with the final 18 months suspended.

“The information on her will be out there forever,” said the judge. “I’ve no doubt it caused considerable distress to the complainant and her family. He (O’Hora) must have known that. It was reprehensible and he should be thoroughly ashamed.”

The final 18 months of the sentence were suspended on the basis of O’Hora’s mitigation, including the hope for his reform and the steps he has already taken towards rehabilitation.

Det Garda Padraig Hanley told Kerida Naidoo SC, prosecuting, that gardaí were alerted after modified images of Ms Ní Bheoláin were found online.

Using the account name “whoresluttramp”, O’Hora had uploaded 32 images to the website imagefap.com. The court heard they comprised photos of Ms Ní Bheoláin’s head taken from newspaper and RTÉ guide cuttings which were then superimposed onto pornographic images.

O’Hora’s home was searched, his computer and mobile phone were seized and he was arrested by gardaí. More than 40 images of explicit child porn in the most serious category were found on O’Hora’s laptop with a further 53 images on his iPhone, depicting children aged from eight to 17.

Many of the pictures were of three identified children and had been taken from Facebook accounts and doctored to form pornographic images.

Torture

Det Garda Hanley said the discussions between O’Hora and the co-accused were “extremely sexually explicit and violent” and included talk of rape, gang rape, sexual assault, torture, threat of extreme sexual violence and murder.

He told Judge Nolan that O’Hora had “no particular malice, just a fixation” towards Ms Ní Bheoláin.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said O’Hora told gardaí that he did not wish Ms Ní Bheoláin any harm and that the images and conversations were just “really bad fantasies”.

O’Hora told gardaí: “It’s not something I’m proud of, it’s a fantasy thing. It’s ridiculous to think she would have any interest in me”.

He said that he had put the images online just so that other people around the world could “get a jolly out of her” and that “I had a seriously sick mind at the time; I got a power trip from looking at little girls’ pictures and it got out of control”.

He told gardaí he had been smoking 12 to 15 joints of cannabis a day at the time as well as drinking and using cocaine when he could afford it.

The court heard that the co-accused man received an 18-month suspended sentence earlier this year at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, which is being appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions for undue leniency.