Tenant's unwanted attention put family in fear, court hears

 

The family of Lord Dunraven in Co Limerick was in fear because a pensioner harassed Geraldine Lady Dunraven by telephone calls, letters and unsolicited gifts, Adare District Court heard yesterday.

Insp Joe Roe, Askeaton, prosecuting, said that in the past six years Mr James Harden (66), of The Avenue, Adare, had written and telephoned the Dunraven family at odd hours of the day. The family knew Mr Harden well and asked him to stop communicating but he did not do so.

Between September 3rd, 1997, and October 14th, 1997, he rang the Dunravens and posted eight letters and unsolicited tapes, which were not offensive. Mr Harden admitted a charge that he harassed Lady Dunraven by consistently communicating between those dates.

Mr John Cussen, defending, said his client had considered himself to be on good terms with the Dunraven family, particularly Lady Dunraven, over a long period. He was surprised to find he was considered a nuisance. "I do not believe there was any question of Mr Harden being particularly oppressive."

His client totally accepted that, if these letters and phone calls were unwelcome, then he would desist from communicating with Lady Dunraven.

Insp Roe said Mr Harden was made aware of the family's feelings and that his gifts and letters were not welcome, but he persisted.

He gave the court an undertaking that he would stop communicating with Lady Dunraven as from yesterday and would also give that undertaking to the whole family on oath. He claimed he had never been asked by Lady Dunraven to desist from the alleged harassment.

Lady Dunraven told the court she knew Mr Harden very well. He was a long-time non-paying tenant of the Dunraven estate. He had invaded her privacy, sometimes climbing the gate and coming down the avenue, leaving cans of beer there.

Lady Dunraven said it was untrue that he was not asked to stop invading her privacy. Asked by Mr Cussen about Mr Harden's undertaking to the court, Lady Dunraven said: "I do not believe it because it has happened before."

Judge Mary O'Halloran adjourned the case for one month to ascertain the full background and report on Mr Harden from the Probation and Welfare Service. She told Mr Cussen: "You can reassure your client that if there is any difficulty within the next month, he faces immediate incarceration."

The case was adjourned until March 10th.