A married father who intimidated a sex worker into withdrawing criminal allegations against him has been sentenced to three years in jail with the last 18 months suspended.
The man (40), from Co Kerry, sent the woman text messages and emails calling her a whore, and threatening to tell her family and neighbours she was a prostitute if the charges were not dropped.
A character witness described the offender as a straight and decent man who he was prepared to stand by him.
After a six day trial last December a jury found the man guilty of two counts of threatening or putting in fear a witness in a garda investigation on dates between April 29th and May 28th, 2010.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the charges.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy previously adjourned the sentence having heard evidence.
He said he couldn’t ignore the seriousness of offences of this kind “which undermine the administration of justice” while also noting the direct impact the man’s actions had on the victim.
He read from the woman’s victim impact report which said she was left “alone, terrified and with no support”. She was in constant fear of what would happen next and didn’t know who she could turn to.
Mr Justice McCarthy said because the man had made it clear he knew where the woman lived, she moved her family to a different area of the country “to feel safe”.
He took into account the fact that the man had no previous convictions, a good employment record, a number of small children and was otherwise of good character.
Mr Justice McCarthy sentenced the man to three years in prison. He suspended the last 18 months on strict conditions including that he make no contact or attempt to make contact with the victim in any way.
The trial heard that the woman was working as an escort or prostitute on the weekend and had come to Dublin to meet a number of men for sex. She advertised herself as a well-educated former model on the Escorts Ireland website.
The accused man contacted her on this website and an arrangement was made for them to meet in the hotel room.
The woman said that she had agreed to meet the man for a “girlfriend experience” service but she said he became rough and didn’t pay her. After he left she contacted gardaí and made criminal allegations against him.
His real identity was unknown to the woman or gardaí as he used a pseudonym on the Escorts Ireland website and an unregistered mobile to arrange the meeting.
The court heard that as gardaí made efforts to identify the accused, he began sending intimidating texts to the woman from two other unregistered mobile phone numbers.
One text stated: “I assume your family know you are a prostitute. I’ve passed on your messages."
The accused told gardaí the texts were not threatening and denied he had threatened or intimidated the woman.
A childhood friend of the accused told Thomas Creed SC, defending, that the accused man was a straight and decent person who he continued to have regard for. He said he was very shocked by this offending but he was prepared to stand by the man.