Former junior minister Ivor Callely has been given a suspended sentence for mounting a campaign of harassment and criminal damage against a GP as part of a property dispute.
The former-Fianna Fáil TD pleaded guilty on Friday morning at Dublin District Court to seven counts of criminal damage and one count of harassment at the doctor's practice on Howth Road in Killester, Dublin.
Judge Kevin Staunton called it a "very bizarre" offence and said he listened to the evidence "with some incredulity".
“It would be very difficult for this court to accept these matters happened in the way they did if they were not recorded on CCTV.”
The judge said his behaviour was “almost something you would see on a comedy sketch but it’s not funny.”
He said it was “childlike behaviour but also behaviour designed to cause as much grief as possible.”
The GP, Dr James Dolan, told the court he initially thought he was being targeted by "kids messing".
After the criminal damage became “relentless” he installed a hidden camera in his waiting room which recorded Callely damaging and throwing rubbish around the room for more than a month.
The court heard Callely (60) of Laurence's Road, Clontarf is the primary tenant of the building and that Dr Dolan had a sub-lease for his practice.
Callely wanted Dr Dolan to vacate the premises and this was at the heart of the dispute, the court heard.
Detective Garda Declan O’Carolan said between May 3rd and June 7th, 2017 Callely was recorded entering the waiting room and emptying the bin on the ground, sometimes several times a day.
He was also seen emptying the contents of a dustpan on the floor and ripping the magazines the doctor had left out for his patients.
On other occasions he rubbed dirt from a vacuum cleaner in the middle of the magazines as well as rubbing the sweeping brush on the wall. He also broke the part of a door and rubbed a tea-bag on the wall.
The court heard €500 worth of damage was done to the waiting room. Dr Dolan said the matter was very embarrassing as he had to explain to patients something was happening that he had no control over.
“I was going into work every day with a sense of dread,” he said.
In 2014 Callely was jailed for five months for fraudulently claiming over €4,000 in mobile phone expenses during his time as a senator. He also has two previous convictions for road traffic offences.
Appealing for leniency, Callely’s solicitor Noel O’Hanrahan said Callely is “a retired politician who has gone through significant trauma”. He said he was under “extreme pressure” at the time and this caused him to “flip”.
He said he was financially broke and was being “assaulted by his creditors on all sides.” Mr O’Hanrahan added his client had been the subject of “enormous, vitriolic and inordinate media coverage.”
The judge said he was taking into account all that Callely had suffered in recent years and that he had paid €500 in compensation.
However, he refused a defence request to impose the Probation Act. “Unfortunately he didn’t just flip once. There appears to be a certain element of sustained harassment here which the court can’t ignore,” the judge said.
He said the harassment was designed to seriously damage Dr Dolan’s practice.
Judge Staunton imposed an eight month sentence on Callely which he suspended in full for 12 months.