Monday 16 January 2017

Man (52) who tried to blackmail his sister-in-law with false porn claims given three year suspended sentence

Published 02/11/2016 | 17:26

Pat O’Dwyer outside court. Photo: Cork Courts Limited
Pat O’Dwyer outside court. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

A middle-aged man who attempted to save his marriage by blackmailing his sister-in-law for €10,000 with false claims her husband was having an affair with a pornographic model was handed a three year suspended prison sentence.

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Pat O’Dwyer (53) had hatched the bizarre blackmail scheme in an apparent bid to save his own marriage.

Judge Dave Riordan at Cork Circuit Criminal Court warned that the offences had "doubly-victimised" the defendant's innocent sister-in-law, Ria Burgoyne, and her devoted husband.

O'Dwyer received a three year suspended sentence last June for using an article (a sock) in an attempt to hide his fingerprints after planning to collect €10,000 in blackmail money from Mrs Burgoyne in an isolated Cork shed.

The father of two, from Wolfe Tone Place, Thurles, Co Tipperary, had also pleaded guilty to demanding money, namely €10,000, with menaces from his sister-in-law between October 20 and 23 2015.

He received a three year suspended sentence for that offence yesterday.

But he was also told he must have no further contact with his sister in law.

O'Dwyer had been remanded in custody for the past week awaiting sentencing.

He spent his 53rd birthday in prison as a result.

Judge Riordan previously queried whether O'Dwyer had anything to say to his sister-in-law and her husband?

"I am sorry for what happened," O'Dwyer replied.

Judge Riordan noted that Mr and Mrs Burgoyne had been "doubly-victimised" - firstly by the offence itself and secondly by details of it having been aired publicly.

He noted that O'Dwyer was described as having "narcissistic" tendencies with one psychiatrist saying he needed further evaluation for possible chronic psychotic disorder.

The judge described the offence as being at the mid to upper range.

Judge Riordan was told by Det Sergeant Sean Leahy that O’Dwyer apparently blamed his sister-in-law for the recent failure of his own marriage.

He also hoped that if he managed to get €10,000 it might help him persuade his wife to give their marriage another chance.

Judge Riordan described the victim impact statement of Mrs Burgoyne as “harrowing.”

The court heard that O’Dwyer sent a package to the woman who was stunned, on opening it, to discover explicit photos of a pornographic actress.

Det Sergeant Leahy said the package, which was received by the victim on October 9 2015 at her place of work, also contained a detailed hand-written note.

That note falsely claimed the woman’s husband was having an affair with the model depicted in the photos – and further claimed that some of her husband’s underwear and semen samples were in the writer’s possession.

Immediately upon receipt of the shocking package, Mrs Burgoyne contacted the Gardaí.

All the allegations in the letter were false and Mrs Burgoyne was advised to wait until the individual made contact again.

Suspicion fell on the defendant from a very early stage of the investigation.

Mrs Burgoyne received two further letters – one of which detailed exactly how the €10,000 demanded in cash was to be handed over in return for the underwear and DNA samples.

Det Garda Leahy explained that a major garda intelligence operation was mounted which included placing lengthy surveillance on an old barn outside Whitegate.

Some time later, the defendant was viewed entering the barn and he was detained by officers hidden outside.

Gardaí found him to be in possession of a balaclava and an old sock.

He was apparently using the latter as a make-shift glove so he wouldn’t leave fingerprints at the scene.

Judge Riordan was told O’Dwyer co-operated fully with detectives, made detailed admissions and pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity.

He is now deeply remorseful over what happened.

The bizarre extortion scheme was apparently partly aimed at trying to restore his own marriage while also targeting Mrs Burgoyne whose strong marriage he was very envious of.

The court was told that O’Dwyer’s entire motivation was to try and portray himself in a good light with his former partner.

Judge Riordan was told by defence counsel, Ray Boland BL, the defendant had a very confused outlook on matters and was very upset by his marital problems.

The court heard the defendant had also suffered a series of severe personal blows including the tragic loss of a baby boy, the deaths of his parents, severe business difficulties and then his own marriage problems.

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