Monday 5 December 2016

Man made 500 abusive calls to staff at the Children's Ombudsman's office

Andrew Phelan

Published 24/12/2015 | 06:57

Children's Ombudsman's office
Children's Ombudsman's office

A DUBLIN man who made more than 500 abusive and nuisance phone calls to the Ombudsman for Children's office has been ordered to carry out community service.

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Derek Byrne (46) subjected staff at the office to months of harassment before he was arrested.

Staff were so intimidated and frustrated by the calls that they were forced to disconnect a public helpline because they could not get their work done.

Calls would go on all afternoon, and Byrne seemed to be under the influence of an intoxicant by the end of the day.

Dublin District Court heard the calls began over the progress of an investigation and serious, unsubstantiated allegations were made.

Judge Michael Walsh ordered Byrne to carry out 200 hours of community service instead of a three-month jail sentence.

Father-of-one Byrne, with an address at Sarah Place, pleaded guilty to six counts of sending grossly offensive telephone messages to named men and women from the office.

Menacing

He also admitted one count of persistently making menacing calls, all on dates between October 2013 and May 2014.

A garda said there had been a total of 563 communications between the accused and the office.

Byrne accepted he had done wrong and apologised, his solicitor said.

"This can only be described as excessive, inordinate and some of them were deeply offensive, intimidating and worrying," the judge said, adding that the case could have been sent to the Circuit Court.

Gda Nicola Connolly previously said after the complaint was made about calls and letters that the accused was arrested and made full admissions.

At times, the office had to disconnect the phone line because of the abusive nature of the calls.

"Staff felt intimidated and frustrated that they couldn't get their work done," Gda Connolly said.

"They feared that Mr Byrne's behaviour was so erratic, he would call to the office and cause a disturbance."

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