Man who became obsessive with his first love after car crash avoids jail

The woman told gardaí Denis Condron (23) became paranoid and possessive after road traffic accident

A Wicklow man who became obsessive with his "first love" after a road traffic accident changed his attitude to their relationship has been given a suspended sentence for harassing the woman.

Denis Condron (23) had been dating the woman for a number of months when he was involved in a car crash. The woman later told gardaí that after the accident Condron's attitude changed and he became paranoid, obsessive and possessive.

Garda Joseph Melvin told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting that the woman said Condron would ring her about 15 times a day and would ask her to take photographs to prove who she was with.

On occasion he would video call her as she was going to bed in her own home and ask her to leave the phone open. When she awoke the following morning Condron would still be on the call looking at her.

The woman ultimately ended the relationship after numerous attempts to do so. Each time she had tried to break up before that Condron would try to stop his behaviour and would improve but would “fall back into the same pattern”, the garda confirmed.

He said after the relationship ended Condron regularly threatened to kill himself. He also threatened to send the woman’s parents intimate photographs she had sent him during the course of their relationship.

Pleaded guilty

Condron of Derry Drive, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to harassing the woman between December 2019 and March 2020.

Keith Spencer BL, defending, said his client found it very difficult to let the relationship go. "He should have 'let grief be a fallen leaf' and move on," Mr Spencer said.

Counsel said it had been a “very good relationship at the beginning” and Condron had wanted to hold onto it at all costs.

“He refused to accept that she had moved on,” Mr Spencer said before he added that this had been his client’s first relationship, “his first love”.

Judge Martin Nolan accepted that the relationship had been going well but it at some point Condron became abusive, and "it seems that the car accident changed his personality and changed the relationship".

He said Condron’s “cumulative behaviour” of continually texting the woman after the relationship ended and the threats he issued meant he had harassed the woman.

Judge Nolan accepted that both Condron and the woman have since gone their separate ways and there has been no contact since she made a statement to the gardaí.

He said that given the harassment lasted for three months it was “at the less serious end of the spectrum” of such an offence and Condron does not deserve a custodial sentence.

Judge Nolan imposed a sentence of two years which he suspended in full for two years. He also ordered that Condron “have no contact whatsoever” with the woman for the next 30 years.

“If you do contact her, you will be committing a criminal offence and will be brought back to court and in all likelihood will go to jail,” Judge Nolan told Condron.

Running away

The court had heard evidence from Gda Melvin that on some occasions when the woman met Condron in public she would end up running away and hiding because she was afraid of him.

She also contacted Condron’s mother because she feared he would harm himself after Condron told her his life was not worth living without her.

In February 2020 Condron arrived at the woman’s home and at her college. At one point he followed her on a bus into Dublin City. When she got off the bus, she called into a nearby garda station and Condron followed her in.

A garda walked the woman back to her bus and Condron followed her back onto the bus and to her home. Both she and her mother were concerned for Condron and offered to buy him food and a bus ticket home. He eventually did leave.

In the weeks after the woman continued to receive texts and calls from Condron. She contacted the gardaí because she was not sure what to do about the situation.

Gda Melvin confirmed that while the woman was in the station making her statement to gardaí Condron regularly messaged her.

He accepted that Condron has not been in touch with the woman since. A victim impact statement was handed into court but not read out.

He agreed with Mr Spencer that Condron told gardaí later in interview that the way the woman “finished things” messed with his head.