Man snapped 13,000 se­cret pho­tos of his neigh­bour


Wexford People - - FRONT PAGE -

A MAN who se­cretly shot thou­sands of pic­tures of his next door neigh­bour, in­clud­ing im­ages of her sun­bathing in the back gar­den, has been told to leave his house for good, or go to jail.

Wex­ford Dis­trict Court heard last week that over the course of nine years, 55-yearold Mark Mooney of 33 Cor­ish Park snapped an av­er­age of four pic­tures per day of his un- sus­pect­ing neigh­bour as she went about her daily busi­ness.

Brid Mur­phy first no­ticed she was be­ing pho­tographed by her neigh­bour in 2015.

Af­ter she con­fronted Mooney about his ac­tiv­i­ties, he took her to his bed­room and showed her some of the im­ages on a com­puter.

Fol­low­ing a com­plaint to Gardaí, 12,899 im­ages of Ms Mur­phy were dis­cov­ered on Mooney’s com­puter and a mem­ory card.

In a har­row­ing state­ment read out in court, the vic­tim said she was left feel­ing pet­ri­fied and vi­o­lated at the dis­cov­ery that she had been fol­lowed in this way by her neigh­bour of more than 30 years.

She said her home was no longer a home, feel­ing more like a prison in­stead.

Af­ter Judge Ger­ard Haugh- ton said he would jail the de­fen­dant for a year if he did not clear out of Cor­ish Park, Mooney’s solic­i­tor said his client would re­move his pos­ses­sions from the house within four days and that num­ber 33 would be up for sale in­side six weeks.

A MAN who took thou­sands of pic­tures of his next-door neigh­bour in a Wex­ford hous­ing es­tate was told by Judge Ger­ard Haughton to leave home or face a year in jail.

Peep­ing tom Mark Mooney (55) of 33 Cor­ish Park agreed to va­cate the house im­me­di­ately and put it up for sale within six weeks in the hope of avoid­ing prison.

Sit­ting at the Dis­trict Court in Belvedere Road, the judge reck­oned that Mooney snapped Brid Mur­phy at a rate of four shots a day on av­er­age over a pe­riod of nine years.

He had two cam­eras which he used to pho­to­graph her while she was sun­bathing, en­joy­ing her gar­den or sim­ply go­ing in and out of 34 Cor­ish Park.

The covert surveillance fi­nally came to light in Au­gust of 2015 and the dis­cov­ery had a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on her.

In a har­row­ing vic­tim im­pact re­port read into the court record by a garda, she de­tailed the panic at­tacks and the ef­fects on her phys­i­cal health.

Judge Haughton re­sponded by telling Mooney – a grad­u­ate in com­mer­cial of­fice de­sign – that he would have to va­cate his house.

The de­fen­dant, who at­tended court with his sis­ter, pleaded guilty to ha­rass­ment over the pe­riod from July of 2007 to Au­gust of 2015.

The case arose out of a dis­pute over the cut­ting of the hedge which runs be­tween Num­ber 33 and Num­ber 34. The two houses are semi-de­tached.

First into the wit­ness box was Garda Paul Doyle who re­sponded in 2015 to a com­plaint from Ms Mur­phy that she was be­ing pho­tographed by the man next door.

She re­ported that she had be­come aware she was be­ing watched and that she con­fronted him about his ac­tiv­i­ties.

She told how he had taken

her to his bed­room and shown her some of the im­ages on a com­puter.

These in­cluded pic­tures of her sun­bathing at the rear of the house.

The com­plaint prompted gardaí to ob­tain a search war­rant and call to 33 Cor­ish Park.

The ac­cused was present as they seized a Dell In­sp­iron com­puter and a Fuji mem­ory card which were ex­am­ined in due course by the com­puter crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit.

In July of 2017, of­fi­cers re­turned to the house and con­ducted a sec­ond search, this time con­fis­cat­ing two cam­eras which were in the bed­room.

Mooney was ar­rested and told gardaí in an in­ter­view that he had taken the pic­tures as he en­joyed look­ing at them.

He ac­cepted that they were taken with­out the knowl­edge of the injured party.

Garda Janet Walsh of the com­puter crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit gave the court de­tails of the scale of the ha­rass­ment.

She im­me­di­ately found at least 2,700 im­ages on the Dell and then re­cov­ered a fur­ther 10,140 which had been deleted.

She reck­oned that the to­tal came to 12,899, and that 2,276 picture files had been copied on to the Fuji film card. They were all stills, with no videos found.

The court learned that most of the pho­tos ap­peared to have been taken in sum­mer time.

Many showed Ms Mur­phy sun­bathing in a bikini or in the gar­den wear­ing shorts.

Two cam­eras were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been used and they too were con­fis­cated.

Judge Haughton was shown a se­lec­tion of the pic­tures but they were not dis­played in open court.

A five-page vic­tim im­pact re­port was sub­mit­ted and it was read out by Garda Doyle at the re­quest of Mooney’s neigh­bour.

The re­port de­tailed how she was left feel­ing pet­ri­fied and vi­o­lated at the dis­cov­ery that she had been fol­lowed in this way by her neigh­bour of more than 30 years.

She ex­pe­ri­enced her first panic at­tack when the in­tru­sion first came to light.

Other ef­fects on her well­be­ing since in­cluded de­pres­sion, in­som­nia and a bout of shin­gles.

She wrote of how she used to re­gard her gar­den as a place of safety but now she felt he would be watch­ing her there.

She dug up all her flow­ers and lost in­ter­est in the gar­den, get­ting some­one else to cut the grass.

The sight of the hedge was a re­minder of how it was used as cover for the tak­ing of pho­to­graphs.

She told how she now hid in the house, de­scrib­ing the fear and panic as un­bear­able.

She felt that she was the vic­tim of the vile be­hav­iour of a preda­tor and that the gar­den was now a no-go area.

It was stress­ful to be in the line of Mooney’s sight, prompt­ing her to re­mark that her home was no longer a home, feel­ing more like a prison in­stead.

She had seen no sign of re­morse or em­bar­rass­ment on the part of her tor­men­tor and felt that any apol­ogy made this late in the day would be mean­ing­less.

Nev­er­the­less, de­fence solic­i­tor Ed King was in­structed by his client to of­fer an apol­ogy as he spoke up in mit­i­ga­tion.

Moore had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions and he was now aware of the mag­ni­tude of the dis­tress caused, the court was told.

A past pupil of the Pre­sen­ta­tion Pri­mary and Wex­ford CBS, he worked in the past as a draughts­man be­fore go­ing to WIT in the 1990s as a ma­ture stu­dent to take his BSc de­gree.

Mr King found it per­plex­ing that some­one of Mooney’s abil­ity did not re­alise what he was do­ing and he urged the judge not to send him to prison.

The solic­i­tor pointed out that the court had pow­ers to or­der the de­fen­dant to have no con­tact with Brid Mur­phy.

‘He can move,’ re­sponded Judge Haughton.

Mr King said his client had no other prop­erty to live in but there was a change of heart af­ter the judge rose for a few min­utes to al­low dis­cus­sions take place.

It was made clear to Mooney that the case was as se­ri­ous a mat­ter as could come be­fore the Dis­trict Court.

The judge had pow­ers to im­pose a one-year jail term, with the op­tion of adding a fine of up to €5,000.

A sen­tence would inevitably be recorded but sus­pen­sion, or part sus­pen­sion, would be con­sid­ered once he clears off and out of Cor­ish Park.

The view of the court was that Ms Mur­phy should not be the one forced to move and that she could not con­tinue to have the offender next door.

When the for­mal hear­ing of the case re­sumed, Mr King gave an as­sur­ance that Mooney would re­move his pos­ses­sions from his house within four days.

He had no in­ten­tion of re­turn­ing, said the de­fence solic­i­tor, and Num­ber 33 would be up for sale in­side six weeks.

Judge Haughton ad­journed un­til Oc­to­ber 9, sum­ming up the cur­rent state of play, say­ing he could guar­an­tee to the injured party that Mooney will not be back in the house – or else he will spend the next 12 months in prison.

‘He can move on’: Judge Ger­ard Haughton (above) says the de­fen­dant could go to jail for a year un­less his solic­i­tor can guar­an­tee that his client will never re­turn to the house.

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