An energy therapist got the idea from a sex addict patient to make up a story about his sister-in-law’s husband and he then set about a bizarre campaign of blackmail.
Pat O’Dwyer, 52, of 2 Wolfetone Place, Thurles, Co Tipperary, pleaded guilty to a charge of extortion where he demanded €10,000.
O’Dwyer sent his sister-in-law three cards containing letters and naked pictures of a woman in various positions and he told her — in what was an entirely made-up claim — that her husband was having an affair with the woman featured in the sexually explicit pictures.
O’Dwyer told his sister-in-law that he had a phial of her husband’s semen and a pair of his boxer shorts which he would send her when he got €10,000 in cash.
Ray Boland said the accused was, according to medical reports, suffering from paranoia, if not psychosis, at the time of the crime, possibly as a result of a series of tragedies in his life that occurred around the same time seven years ago.
Judge David Riordan said the victim impact statement made for harrowing reading.
Detective Sergeant Seán Leahy said the first letter sent anonymously by O’Dwyer arrived at the business address of his sister-in-law, Ria Burgoyne in Midleton, Co Cork, on October 9 last. It was contained in a large Valentine-type card in a large red envelope.
The handwritten letter gave details of sexual activities which he claimed were going on between her husband and the naked woman in the photographs.
A second letter sent soon afterwards and in the same handwriting and with numerous spelling errors contained a demand for €10,000 in exchange for a phial of her husband’s semen, which was allegedly frozen, and a pair of his boxer shorts.
A third letter gave details of where to drop the money — at a shed not far from the injured party’s home in Whitegate. Gardaí set up surveillance there. A man arrived in the shed; gardaí moved in; he ran but he was caught and arrested. It was Pat O’Dwyer and he was wearing a sock over one of his hands which he later said was to keep his fingerprints off the money.
As for why O’Dwyer came up with what his barrister Ray Boland agreed was a bizarre and disturbing plan, there was a skewed logic where he blamed his sister-in-law for the failure of his marriage to her sister. He thought that if he destroyed her marriage then his own wife might return to him because any difficulties in their marriage would then pale by comparison to those of the injured party.
Ms Burgoyne who was in Cork Circuit Criminal Court supported by her husband, wept as she began to read her victim impact statement. Judge Riordan read the report privately instead and commented that it made for harrowing reading.
Mr Boland asked for an adjournment of sentencing until next Thursday, June 9, for a more extensive psychiatric report to be prepared, which was agreed.
Mr Boland said that seven years ago a son of the accused died. Both his parents also died around that time and his business was burnt out. He went on to suffer paranoia and might have had a psychotic disorder.
O’Dwyer had practised as an energy therapist from a premises in Thurles and one of his clients was a sex addict. The accused got the idea for the blackmail while listening to the patient talking about sex addiction.
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