Tuesday 16 January 2018

Barrister admits leaving 120 ‘sexually intimidating’ voicemails for male collegaue

Niamh Griffin

A BARRISTER has admitted leaving over 120 voicemail messages described as "creepy" and "sexually intimidating" on a younger colleague’s mobile phone.

Paul McLoughlin (49) of North Circular Road, changed his plea to guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on the third day of his trial.

He had initially denied harassing Lorcan Staines (30) between May 1, 2006 and May 14, 2010.

Judge Patricia Ryan granted bail pending sentencing next month on condition that McLoughlin not contact Mr Staines in any way. She also asked for a psychiatric report.

A jury earlier heard over 60 of the voicemail messages which Mr Staines had recorded, some of which repeatedly stated “I want you to be my boyfriend”.

Mr Staines testified that listening to the messages was very upsetting and had also caused great distress to his wife.

When asked by prosecuting counsel Paul Carroll BL, if he was worried about being watched, Mr Staines replied: “There was a message that said when I went into the bathroom I should look up and down, left and right because I was being watched.”

McLoughlin also left messages saying he was in Galway - where Mr Staines had studied – and was walking where he had walked, and another making clear he had researched Mr Staines’ date of birth.

Having listened to the messages for over two hours, Mr Staines became visibly upset, saying he felt he had been “goaded” into taking the case to court.

He repeatedly said he found the behaviour “creepy” and said of one message: “I personally consider it a sexually intimidating message.” .

Mr Staines told the jury the messages were usually left between 6pm and 7am, and it wasn’t unusual for his phone’s mailbox to be full in the mornings.

He estimated he also received over 300 missed calls from pay-phones in Dublin city centre after he had blocked McLoughlin’s number. He explained to the court that as a barrister he was unable to turn off his phone as he had to be reachable for work.

Sergeant Brendan Brogan played the messages in sequence for the jury. On October 29th 2009, nine messages were received between 8.19pm and 11.58pm.

In these messages, the caller repeatedly asks Mr Staines to treat him as “a professional equal” referring to Mr Staines’ refusal to meet him for coffee in 2005.

Mr Staines earlier testified that senior colleagues at the bar had warned the then 23-year-old barrister to “stay away” from McLoughlin.

In another series of messages, McLouglin repeats: “I want you to be my boyfriend”, three times in one message and again in another.

When Mr Staines heard this message, he told the court: “It was more than two years then since a word had been spoken between us.”

Another message said: “You are not available to take my calls, but you are available to play with my emotions.” The phrase “fatal attraction” appeared many times in the messages.

In many of the messages McLoughlin taunts Mr Staines for “hiding behind barred numbers”. In others he discusses conversations with Sgt Brogan who had asked him to stop the calls following a formal complaint.

Mr Staines was in court today to hear the changed plea but did not react.

McLoughlin took notes during the trial and communicated with his solicitor throughout.

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