Saturday 1 October 2016

Man apologises to sister-in-law after bizarre blackmail threat with false porn actress affair claims

Published 09/06/2016 | 12:51

Cork Courthouse
Cork Courthouse

A MIDDLE-aged man publicly apologised to his sister-in-law after attempting to blackmail €10,000 from her with false claims her husband was having an affair with a pornographic model.

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Pat O’Dwyer (52) had hatched the bizarre blackmail scheme in an apparent bid to save his own marriage.

He received a three year suspended prison sentence before Cork Circuit Criminal Court after a judge warned that his offences had "doubly-victimised" his innocent sister-in-law, Ria Burgoyne, and her devoted husband.

O'Dwyer received the three year suspended sentence 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 last.

Sentencing on that more serious charge was adjourned by Judge Dave Riordan until October 26 to allow for further psychiatric evaluation of O'Dwyer.

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

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

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 last 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.

Judge Riordan adjourned sentencing on the demanding money with menaces charge until October 26.

O'Dwyer was remanded on bail but was ordered not to come within 7km of Midleton in east Cork where Mr and Mrs Burgoyne live and work.

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