The Cape Clear man who appealed a conviction for sustained harassment of a woman who had an affair with his father has been ordered not to go within 100 metres of her in the next five years.
Judge Eoin Garavan also affirmed the harassment conviction and the six-month suspended sentence previously imposed on Shane O’Driscoll, 37, with a previous address at Lissamona on Cape Clear, who now lives in Skibbereen, County Cork. He appealed a conviction for harassing the woman on the West Cork island on dates between January 1, 2017, and September 1, 2018.
The judge made an order not to report the woman’s name or some specific identifying details.
The appellant’s barrister Donal O’Sullivan said: “The general fact is that my client said for the most part none of this happened – none of this abuse. You are making it up because you have a vendetta against him and you have a vendetta against his family and anything that went wrong in your life you laid at his door. You would blame him for anything. No matter what it is you would blame him.” The complainant denied this.
Malachy Boohig, state solicitor for West Cork, asked the complainant how it all started. She said: “This series of events started on January 1, 2017, very early in the morning.” This was when Shane O’Driscoll’s father Fachtna revealed the affair he had with the complainant.
She said that what followed were various occasions when Shane O’Driscoll drove up the cul de sac to her cottage on the island. One night she said the defendant’s father called to her home and that after he arrived, there was hooting of a car horn outside.
She said there was fierce banging on the gates and doors and she opened the door to see the appellant “hopping off the ground” shouting at her and at his father. “I gently put my hand on his chest and said you will not come in. He said, ‘You are a c**t and a tramp’,” she said.
She said there were various dates when she passed him on roads around the island and that on some occasions he drove at high speed towards her, on others he drove past her extremely slowly and sometimes he drove behind her and she feared that he would bump her car off the pier.
She said that in the course of up to 30 other alleged incidents he sometimes verbally abused her as a whore, a prostitute, scum, a hooker, a stupid bitch and a slut. She said: “I have never ever responded to his verbal abuse or actions in any way.”
The complainant said that on one occasion she let him into her cottage when he said wanted to discuss matters but that when she asked him to leave for abusing her he pushed her away from her door, kicked the door viciously and verbally abused her and she said: “I have a very clear conscience.” She said Fachtna was present on that occasion and that the appellant’s father said to her: “My marriage is over, are you ‘effing’ happy?”
The complainant said on one occasion, “I discovered dead gutted fish thrown in to my private living area.” She said the defendant worked as a ferry skipper and that when she travelled on the ferry when he was working she felt intimidated by his words or actions.
In August 2020, she moved off the island but wishes to return.
Defence barrister, Donal O’Sullivan, said: “Fachtna remained married to Helen. Helen found out. Emotions were high.” He said the appellant and his parents are native islanders and that he is married and lives in Skibbereen.
Shane O’Driscoll testified in relation to allegations that he had driven up the laneway to the complainant’s home numerous times: “I have never done anything like that. I have never been there on any of those occasions. I would have been abroad on some of those occasions.”
On the incident where his father was at the complainant’s home, Shane O’Driscoll said he called to the house only to tell his father to leave. He alleged that he and his brother Brian called to her home on one occasion.
“We wanted to know why she was starting to harass us. We wanted to know whether they (herself and his father) were in contact with one another. We had no intention of going into the house,” he said. He added that she invited them in.
He said they wanted to know what was going on but they got no answers. The appellant said there was no roaring or shouting or banging of doors. He said he had nothing to do with gutted fish being thrown onto the grounds of a property where she worked.
He denied being abusive or intimidating towards her on the ferry and that there would have been numerous passengers to witness it if it had happened.
Mr Boohig cross-examined the appellant and said he was the one with a vendetta against the complainant since he heard of the affair. O’Driscoll said he only felt shock.
He said the complainant’s statement of complaint was found to be untrue. Mr Boohig said the district judge found it to be true and convicted Shane O’Driscoll of harassment.
In the appeal, Judge Garavan asked: “Who found it to be untrue?” The appellant replied: “I suppose us, in general.” Patrick O’Driscoll who worked on the ferry with Shane said the appellant did not verbally abuse her or call her names.
Brian O’Driscoll, brother of the appellant, recalled being at the complainant’s house with his brother and his father and telling the complainant and his father he hated them. He wanted to know if there was an ongoing relationship between them and could not find out on the occasion.
Judge Garavan said some of the incidents alleged were not proven but that many were. He said that together these incidents – some minor and some more serious and aggressive – amounted to harassment, and he affirmed the conviction and sentence.