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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Mum tells gardai how drunk TD sent lewd message to schoolgirl

Paul Williams, Fionnan Sheahan and Sam Griffin

Published 24/03/2014 | 02:30

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Patrick Nulty and some of the messages he sent
Patrick Nulty and some of the messages he sent

THE mother of the schoolgirl sent lewd messages by Patrick Nulty has given a full account of events involving the disgraced TD to gardai.

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The woman, who herself also received a disturbing message from Mr Nulty, inset, visited her local garda station yesterday and gave a full statement to back up an earlier complaint.

Gardai are expected to question the former TD, as well as examine his computers and the mobile phone used to send the disturbing messages.

Mr Nulty sensationally quit his seat this weekend after it was revealed he sent the inappropriate messages to women, including a 17-year-old schoolgirl.

Mr Nulty is also accused of sending "many more messages" to other women, including friends of the schoolgirl, the Irish Independent has learned.

The 31-year-old TD admitted he had sent messages to the girl "while under the influence of alcohol".

He is understood to be receiving therapy and has been dealing with alcohol and other personal issues.

Mr Nulty's Dad Paddy broke down in tears yesterday, and said his son is not a "bad" person.

Paddy said yesterday morning: "Lookit he didn't murder anybody. He is not a bad lad."

"We just want to try to get through this and support him."

"We will talk but we can't at the moment. It's very hard at the minute, please understand that."

Mr Nulty's mother Rose declined to comment.

His shock resignation will result in a by-election being held in Dublin West.

Mr Nulty, a former Labour TD turned Independent, was forced to quit after being confronted with evidence of several inappropriate messages sent to women.

The recipients included a schoolgirl who is preparing for her Leaving Certificate, whom Mr Nulty asked: "Have you ever been spanked?"

The girl's mother, a constituent who months earlier had asked Mr Nulty for advice on financial issues, also received an inappropriate message from Mr Nulty.

The TD initially claimed he had been the victim of hackers – but the woman became suspicious at the content of the message, as well as the fact that it was apparently sent from inside the Dail.

The family of the two women are understood to be deeply upset and yesterday provided gardai with more information on the bizarre series of events.

Sources close to the investigation say it is unclear whether a criminal offence has been committed, but they will now investigate fully, as a formal complaint has been made regarding Mr Nulty.

"There is a formal complaint and we are expecting another. Mr Nulty will have to be interviewed and his electronic devices examined as part of an investigation," said a garda source.

Gardai are also likely to confiscate his computers and phones for analysis of his Facebook account and text traffic.

The girl's mother first complained to gardai about the Dublin West TD on February 4 in Blanchardstown garda station.

It is understood the woman first met Mr Nulty 18 months previously, when she went to him for advice, and he later befriended her daughter on Facebook.

He sent the first of a number of disturbing messages in the early hours of December 29 last year.

The girl's mother also got an inappropriate message from Mr Nulty on January 31. The woman contacted him and demanded to know what he meant by the insulting message.

He claimed that his computer had been hacked, and pleaded with her not to contact the gardai.

But the content of the message referred to the woman's rent – a matter she is understood to have discussed with Mr Nulty previously – while online 'geographical tagging' suggested it had been sent from the Dail.

Mr Nulty later texted the woman saying he had reset the password on his account and thanked her for her "compassion".

However, the woman was convinced only the TD could have known about the subject matter in his message, and she went to the gardai.

The family were also said to have been upset when they noticed Mr Nulty had reopened his Facebook page a few weeks ago, having promised them he would close it.

The mother said the family had "nothing to say" when approached for comment last night. The girl's father explained that both the teenager and her mother had visited the local garda station yesterday afternoon.

BY-ELECTION

The mother made a formal statement to gardai, but it is understood that her daughter was reluctant to make a complaint or statement at this stage.

Meanwhile, the political parties are already preparing for a by-election. The Coalition is toying with an early by-election on the same day as the local and European elections, as senior Fine Gael figures want to catch out its rivals.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said it was too early to say if it would be held on May 23 – the same day as the local and European elections – or in the autumn.

A Dail seat must be filled within six months of it being vacated by a sitting TD.

Mr Nulty replaced the late Brian Lenihan in a by-election in October 2011. After finishing in second place on that occasion, Fianna Fail is hoping to win the seat back through its expected candidate, Cllr David McGuinness.

Irish Independent

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