Stalker harassed women for six years, court is told

A sadistic stalker harassed nine different women over a six-year period by threatening them over the phone and sending obscene mail telling them they'll meet the same fate as missing women like Jo Jo Dollard and Deirdre Jacob, a court has heard.

A sadistic stalker harassed nine different women over a six-year period by threatening them over the phone and sending obscene mail telling them they'll meet the same fate as missing women like Jo Jo Dollard and Deirdre Jacob, a court has heard.

Thomas O'Connor, aged 45, curator of Dublin Civic Museum, posted letters of up to six pages with pictures of half-naked women with the faces of his various targets superimposed at the top.

He ordered them to hang their underwear in their windows at a specified date and time and threatened if they failed to comply he would ruin their lives by stalking them and saying the same thing could happen to them as missing women Jo Jo Dollard, Deirdre Jacob, Annie McCarrick and Fiona Pender.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told he also made references to murdered BBC reporter Jill Dando and sent newspaper cuttings with the headline 'Theory of Serial Killer Rejected'.

He made numerous anonymous phone calls, grunting and groaning, and one of the women reported receiving a letter with faeces on it.

O'Connor, of Rock Road, Booterstown, pleaded guilty to three counts of sending obscene postal packages, three counts of harassing women by persistently communicating with them and three counts of harassing them by continuously watching or besetting them on dates from October 1996 to

February 2001.

Judge Yvonne Murphy adjourned the sentence until July 22 so that defence counsel, Mr Fergal Foley BL, could ascertain if their were any suitable residential courses available for his client.

Judge Murphy said: "However, I'm not convinced he is a suitable character to let back into the community. It's a very serious matter and I have to consider the terror these women were subjected to and society as a whole."

One of the women told the court that her partner of ten years had only recently passed away at the time she received the first letter and it made her fear for her life.

She said: "I was still in mourning for my partner when this started to happen. The letters were so full of hate and viciousness and they were very personal and extremely disgusting.

"I was very frightened for myself and my little boy. I was living on my own and absolutely terrified. He's just a nasty, bitter little man and I've no idea how anyone could so such a thing.

Another woman said the incidents had taken over her life for five years and she wanted closure on the matter so she could put it behind her.

She said: "I'd never laid eyes on this man, yet he seemed to know a lot of details about my life. I feel he sentenced me to five and-a-half years in prison and I want that to reflect in the sentence that he gets."

Detective Sergeant Colm O'Malley told Ms Mary Ellen Ring BL, prosecuting, that O'Connor sent the women lewd mail for a number of years and each letter had references to the particular woman.

He ordered them to hang underwear in their women and if they didn't he threatened to wreck their lives. He knew personal details about each woman and where they were in their house at various times.

He also told one women in a letter that if he didn't obey him she was "f**cking dead, f**king dead."

Each woman gave the various material they had received from O'Connor to the gardai. The investigation had begun back in October 1995 and it soon became evident that there was a link between each case.

Det Sgt O'Malley said various surveillance operations were set up on the houses of the women and O'Connor was finally arrested after he was caught stalking the house of one victim who lived in a cul-de-sac.

He cooperated with gardai and said the control he had over the women and the fear he put in them gave him a kick. He concentrated on single women, living alone and got their names and addresses from the directory.

He wrote letters to four of the victims to apologise but these weren't accepted and a friend advised him not to for his other victims.

O'Connor had two children, aged six and two, and had recently separated from his wife. He worked as a curator at the Civic Museum but was suspended after he was charged. He had since parted company with the museum.

Psychologist Julian Boon described O'Connor as having various symptoms of a sadistic stalker but a period of imprisonment was unlikely to help in his rehabilitation.

Dr Boon admitted that O'Connor was quite ill but said the offences were more of a fetish and he simply enjoyed the control he had over the women.

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