Man jailed for three years for ha­rass­ing RTÉ news­reader Ní Bhe­oláin

Ac­cused also con­victed of pos­sess­ing child pornog­ra­phy Judge con­dems O’Hora’s ‘in­sid­i­ous form of ha­rass­ment’

The Irish Times - - Home News - JES­SICA MAGEE

A Dublin man has been jailed for three years for ha­rass­ing RTÉ news­reader Sharon Ní Bhe­oláin and pos­sess­ing child pornog­ra­phy.

Conor O’Hora (41), of Heather Walk, Port­marnock, pleaded guilty at Dublin Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court to ha­rass­ing Ms Ní Bhe­oláin be­tween March 27th, 2013 and Jan­uary 7th, 2014.

He fur­ther pleaded guilty to three counts of know­ingly pos­sess­ing child pornog­ra­phy on a mo­bile phone and on a com­puter hard drive at Sta­tion Road, Port­marnock on Feb­ru­ary 18th, 2014.

The court heard that the ha­rass­ment in­volved post­ing more than 30 mod­i­fied pho­tos of Ms Ní Bhe­oláin on a web­site which could be found through a Google search of her name.

The pornog­ra­phy charges in­volved know­ingly pos­sess­ing about 100 images of child pornog­ra­phy on a mo­bile phone and on a com­puter hard drive at Sta­tion Road, Port­marnock on Feb­ru­ary 18th, 2014.

The court heard that the ha­rass­ment also in­volved 39 sex­u­ally ex­plicit and vi­o­lent on­line con­ver­sa­tions be­tween O’Hora and a co-ac­cused.

Dis­tress

Pass­ing sen­tence yes­ter­day, Judge Martin Nolan con­demned O’Hora’s “in­sid­i­ous form of ha­rass­ment” and “de­bas­ing be­hav­iour”. He handed down a 4½ year sen­tence with the fi­nal 18 months sus­pended.

“The in­for­ma­tion on her will be out there for­ever,” said the judge. “I’ve no doubt it caused con­sid­er­able dis­tress to the com­plainant and her fam­ily. He [O’Hora] must have known that. It was rep­re­hen­si­ble and he should be thor­oughly ashamed.”

The fi­nal 18 months of the sen­tence were sus­pended on the ba­sis of O’Hora’s mit­i­ga­tion, in­clud­ing the hope for his re­form and the steps he has al­ready taken to­wards re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Det Garda Pádraig Han­ley told Kerida Naidoo SC, pros­e­cut­ing, that gar­daí were alerted af­ter mod­i­fied images of Ms Ní Bhe­oláin were found on­line.

Us­ing the ac­count name “whore slut tramp”, O’Hora had up­loaded 32 images to a web­site.

The court heard they com­prised pho­tos of Ms Ní Bhe­oláin’s head taken from news­pa­per and RTÉ guide cut­tings which were then su­per­im­posed onto porno­graphic images.

O’Hora’s home was searched, his com­puter and mo­bile phone were seized and he was ar­rested by gar­daí. More than 40 images of ex­plicit child porn in the most se­ri­ous cat­e­gory were found on O’Hora’s lap­top with a fur­ther 53 images on his iPhone, de­pict­ing chil­dren aged from eight to 17.

Many of the pictures were of three iden­ti­fied chil­dren and had been taken from Face­book ac­counts and doc­tored to form porno­graphic images.

Det Garda Han­ley said the dis­cus­sions be­tween O’Hora and the co-ac­cused were “ex­tremely sex­u­ally ex­plicit and vi­o­lent” and in­cluded talk of rape, gang rape, sexual assault, tor­ture, threat of ex­treme sexual vi­o­lence and mur­der.

Fix­a­tion

He told Judge Nolan that O’Hora had “no par­tic­u­lar mal­ice, just a fix­a­tion” to­wards Ms Ní Bhe­oláin.

Pi­eter Le Vert, defending, said O’Hora told gar­daí that he did not wish Ms Ní Bhe­oláin any harm and that the images and con­ver­sa­tions were just “re­ally bad fan­tasies”.

O’Hora told gar­daí: “It’s not some­thing I’m proud of, it’s a fan­tasy thing. It’s ridicu­lous to think she would have any in­ter­est in me”.

He said that he had put the images on­line just so that other peo­ple around the world could “get a jolly out of her” and that “I had a se­ri­ously sick mind at the time; I got a power trip from look­ing at lit­tle girls’ pictures and it got out of con­trol”.

He told gar­daí he had been smok­ing 12 to 15 joints of cannabis a day at the time as well as drink­ing and us­ing co­caine when he could af­ford it.

The court heard that the co-ac­cused man re­ceived an 18-month sus­pended sen­tence ear­lier this year at Cork Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court, which is be­ing ap­pealed by the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions for un­due le­niency.

MAIN PHO­TO­GRAPH: COLLINS

Top: Conor O’Hora (40) of Heather Walk, Port­marnock, Dublin: jailed for three years for pos­sess­ing child pornog­ra­phy and ha­rass­ing Sharon Ní Bhe­oláin (above).

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