Priest guilty of threats to nephew loses appeal
A priest jailed for hiring men who said they were from the Continuity IRA to issue death threats and intimidate his nephew into dropping legal action he was planning against the priest has lost an appeal against his sentence.
Francis Kelleher (60), originally from Cloughduv, Co Cork, but who had been living in Cork city, had pleaded guilty to four counts of coercion in relation to compelling his nephew to abstain from doing an act he had a lawful right to do on dates between June 2012 and January 2013. He was sentenced to four years' imprisonment on April 30, 2015.
Dismissing Kelleher's appeal yesterday, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said an attempt to stop an individual from pursuing legal proceedings was a very serious matter. In this case, the threats were "particularly nasty" and caused great fear for Kelleher's nephew.
The fact that Kelleher utilised the name of the Continuity IRA for the purpose of instilling in his victim the maximum amount of fear was "particularly reprehensible".
Kelleher's nephew "absolutely believed" that he and his family were in serious danger, the judge said. The threats were realistic enough that the nephew felt the need to check under his car every day.
The fact that Kelleher paid substantial money to people to make these threats further emphasised the seriousness of the situation and meant they had not been made "on a whim", the judge said.
He added that it was a remarkable feature of the case that the victim was Kelleher's nephew and Kelleher a priest and hospital chaplain. These were vocations which were normally associated with "caring for others", the judge said.
Kelleher's barrister said his client was effectively "a broken man". He had lost his work of administering to the sick in hospital and had lost his livelihood.