Court hears man tried to ‘shake priest down’

A MAN tried to “shake down” a priest to hand over €200 by threatening to tell social services that the priest had frightened his child.

Trevor O’Donoghue, aged 38, of 48 Gurranabraher Avenue, Cork, pleaded guilty at Cork District Court to a charge of demanding money with menaces from Fr Colin Doocey on August 6, 2008.

Inspector Michael Fitzpatrick said O’Donoghue went to Fr Doocey asking him for €200 to put towards a deposit on a flat.

Fr Doocey told O’Donoghue he would not be giving him the money and they walked out of Frankfield Church together into the car park.

“Mr O’Donoghue’s partner was in a car with a young child,” Inspector Fitzpatrick said.

“The child got out of the car and Mr O’Donoghue accused Fr Doocey of frightening the child and he said he was going to complain him to social services.

“He said he would drop the complaint if he gave him €200.”

Fr Doocey immediately made a complaint to Sergeant Simon Grace, and O’Donoghue was prosecuted for demanding money with menaces.

O’Donoghue pleaded guilty to the charge and apologised through his solicitor, Peter O’Flynn, to Fr Doocey.

Judge David Riordan was told that in fairness to Fr Doocey he had offered the defendant a lot of support in the past as the defendant had what was described as a disturbed background.

Judge Riordan said of O’Donoghue: “He was trying to shake Fr Doocey down, essentially.”

O’Donoghue has 82 previous convictions, including many for theft.

Judge Riordan imposed a six-month jail sentence on O’Donoghue, suspended for two years on his undertaking not to approach the priest again.

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