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Court Tells Laois Man To Move Home To Avoid Prison Sentence

He had admitted to sending a large volume of sexualised messages to his neighbour over two years.

A Co Laois man who admitted sending a large volume of lewd, sexual text messages to a female neighbour over a two-year period has been told he must move away permanently from his home if he wants to avoid going to prison.

Judge Keenan Johnson told Paddy Dunne (48) of Slieve Bloom Park, Clonaslee, Co Laois that he should not return to that address if he wanted a jail sentence he is facing to be suspended.

Dunne, a single man, had pleaded guilty at an earlier sitting of Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court to a sample count of harassing his 35-year-old neighbour via anonymous text messages on dates between June 2016 and October 2018.

The unemployed labourer also pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary of a house in Clonaslee on September 13, 2019, during an incident where a woman woke up in her sitting room to find Dunne rubbing her leg.

Judge Johnson told Dunne in March that he regarded a three-year jail term as the headline sentence for the harassment offence but he adjourned finalisation of the case on condition that the defendant moved out of his council house in Clonaslee and went to live with his mother.

Counsel for the DPP, Will Fennelly BL, told the court this week that Dunne had been living with his mother over the past two months but it was not a permanent solution as he was sleeping on a couch.

The court heard Dunne was trying to find alternative accommodation by seeking a transfer from Laois County Council but that it could take some time to arrange.

The court had previously heard evidence from the victim that she had complained to gardaí in August 2018 that she was regularly being sent highly sexualised text messages from two unknown mobile phone numbers.

Detective Garda Gerard Galwey told the court that it had been impossible to trace the numbers, although it was established they were coming from the Clonaslee area.

A breakthrough in the case came after the woman was sent a text on September 17, 2018 which read: “Well darling. Are you coming to spend one night with me? It’s my birthday and I’m after winning €140 in the lotto. Thinking about you, sweetheart. You sexy thing. Mad about you.”

Det Garda Galwey said a check on the Garda Pulse system had identified Dunne as having a birthday that matched the date.

Another text which made a reference to the sender having a FETAC award in computer applications was also consistent with Dunne’s qualifications.

When questioned by gardaí, Dunne admitted sending the texts usually after drinking, but claimed they were “only a bit of craic”.

In a victim impact statement, the mother of one described the texts as “disgusting” while they also referred to how she was dressed.

The court heard the woman had suspicions that Dunne was the person texting her but nobody had taken her seriously.

“I believe this man will do it again if not stopped,” she added.

Judge Johnson remanded Dunne on continuing bail until October 26 on condition he has no contact with his victim and observes a daily curfew between 8pm and 8am.

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