Cork man pleads guilty over gay website blackmail claims

An investigation into alleged blackmailing of a man using a gay dating site resulted in the accused pleading guilty yesterday to demanding thousands with menaces.

Neil Duggan, aged 45, of Riverside Rise, Rushbrooke, Cobh, resorted to this crime because of a gambling addiction, his barrister Brendan Kelly said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Duggan was scheduled to face trial by judge and jury on two counts of demanding money with menaces yesterday. Last month he pleaded guilty to two related charges. He admitted threatening the same victim at the Silver Key bar and restaurant, Ballinlough, Cork, on April 17, 2017. Publishing details of those two pleas of guilty was not allowed last month pending the outcome of the trial.

Yesterday, he admitted the menacing charges and no trial was necessary. The first of those charges was demanding €2,500 with menaces from the 60-year-old complainant at Spur Hill in Cork on April 11, 2017. The second was of demanding a further €5,000 with menaces from the victim at a filling Station in Douglas two days later.

Mr Kelly said: “I would ask you to extend legal aid for a report from a counsellor Mr Duggan is attending. He has a severe gambling addiction. That is the genesis of his offending behaviour.” Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin agreed to extend legal aid to cover the counsellor’s report.

Mr Kelly asked for sentencing to be adjourned until October so the accused could gather €7,500 compensation. The judge said October was too far away and put sentencing back until June 14. He remanded Duggan on bail.

Det Garda David Hickey said when Duggan was first arrested and charged that gardaí had no objection to bail once certain conditions were met including that he have no contact directly or indirectly with the injured party. He was also required to abstain from intoxicants and sign on every Thursday at Togher Garda Station.


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