Suspended sentence for bizarre porn-blackmail extortion scheme

Attempt to implicate husband in affair via bogus explicit images sent to sister-in-law

A 53-year-old man has written a letter of apology to his sister-in-law over a bizarre scheme where he demanded €10,000 from her after he sent her sexually explicit pictures of a porn model with whom he falsely alleged her husband was having an affair.

Pat O'Dwyer wrote the letter of apology while remanded for a week in custody at Cork Prison after he pleaded guilty to demanding €10,000 from his sister-in-law, Ria Burgoyne, by menaces in Midleton, Co Cork, on October 20th 2015.

On Wednesday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge David Riordan finalised the case against O'Dwyer from Wolfe Tone Place, Thurles, Co Tipperary, when he imposed a three-year sentence for demanding money with menaces from Ms Burgoyne.

The sentence was suspended on condition that O’Dwyer would stay under the supervision of the Probation Service for two years and attend at a psychiatric facility if recommended by the service and not go within 5km of either Ms Burgoyne’s home or place of business for a period of four years.

“He has seen the inside of a prison and knows what it means to disobey a court order,” said the judge, adding that a letter of apology to the Burgoynes written while in custody suggested that O’Dwyer had finally got some insight into his crime and had some empathy for his victims.

Det Sgt Seán Leahy had outlined the background to the case at a previous sitting when he explained that O’Dwyer blamed his sister-in-law for the break-up of his marriage. He planned to use the €10,000 he was seeking to extort from her to give to his ex-wife in an effort to impress her.

Det Sgt Leahy told how Ms Burgoyne received a large red handwritten envelope at her place of work on October 9th, 2015. When she opened it she discovered it contained a handwritten letter together with colour photographs of a naked woman in sexually explicit poses.

Accusation of affair

The letter falsely alleged that her husband, Phillip Burgoyne, was having an affair with the woman. The author also claimed to have a vial of Mr Burgoyne's semen and in a second letter sent on October 20th, 2015, demanded €10,000 to secure its return.

The letter falsely alleged that Mr Burgoyne was having an affair with the woman depicted in the explicit poses while the author also claimed to have a vial of Mr Burgoyne’s semen as well as a pair of his boxer shorts, said Det Sgt Leahy.

Ms Burgoyne contacted gardaí and gave them the letter but 11 days later on October 20th, 2015, a second handwritten letter arrived and on this occasion the writer demanded €10,000 in cash to buy back the vial of Mr Burgoyne’s semen and boxer shorts.

A third letter was subsequently sent detailing how the money was to paid over and where.

Gardaí mounted a surveillance operation on the specified location, a disused shed in Upper Aghada in Whitegate, and investigating officers arrested O'Dwyer after he entered the shed. He was found with a balaclava and a sock which he was using as a glove to avoid leaving fingerprints.

Ms Burgoyne had nominated O’Dwyer as a suspect because of the way the letter writer had incorrectly spelt her surname. When he was arrested and questioned, O’Dwyer made full admissions that he was behind the extortion attempt and co-operated with gardaí.

Defence barrister Ray Boland said his client appears to have undergone a personality change following the death of an infant son just two days after he was born, the loss of his drapery business in a fire and the death of his parents – all within a short space of time.

Mr Boland said that O’Dwyer had spent his 53rd birthday in prison last week and now appreciated the seriousness of his offence. He concluded that his client was willing to comply with whatever directions the court imposed.