Tuesday 16 January 2018

Barrister jailed over 'sexually intimidating' voicemails to colleague

Former barrister Paul McLoughlin
Former barrister Paul McLoughlin

Sonya McLean and Conor Gallagher

A FORMER barrister who left over 120 "sexually intimidating" voicemails on a younger colleague's mobile phone has been jailed for two years.

Paul McLoughlin (50) changed his plea to guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after two days of evidence, during which the jury heard 62 recordings of the messages.

He had initially denied harassing barrister Lorcan Staines (30) between 2006 and 2010.

Judge Patricia Ryan imposed a three-year term but suspended the final year after taking into account McLoughlin's guilty plea and his expressions of remorse. She ordered that he undergo 18 months of probation supervision on his release and stay away from Mr Staines for 15 years.

She noted that Mr Staines felt "goaded and taunted" into making a complaint to gardai and that McLoughlin continued to harass him even after he had been warned by gardai and later arrested.

Mr Staines was not in court when sentence was handed down. He declined to comment when contacted by the Irish Independent last night.

McLoughlin has no previous convictions and although he was a barrister at the time, he is no longer practising.

During the trial last May, the jury heard the voicemails which Mr Staines had recorded, some of which repeatedly stated: "I want you to be my boyfriend."

Another 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.

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

He repeatedly said he found the behaviour "creepy" and "sexually intimidating".

Sergeant Brendan Brogan said that in some of the final voicemails, McLoughlin referred to Sgt Brogan as Mr Staines's "henchman", while others stated "I am outside a restaurant on Dame Street, awaiting my arrest" and "I am awaiting Sgt Brogan".

These were received after McLoughlin had been questioned on three occasions and arrested twice.

The court heard that McLoughlin was warned by gardai in September 2009 not to contact Mr Staines again after the barrister contacted the gardai following three years of harassment. Mr Staines did not make a formal complaint.

Harassment

He did, however, make a formal complaint two months later after McLoughlin continued to harass him. McLoughlin was then arrested but not charged.

He was arrested a second time six months later, in May 2011, and charged after he resumed calling Mr Staines late at night and leaving aggressive voicemail messages.

At this point McLoughlin, from North Circular Road, Dublin, was released on bail but that bail was revoked in November 2011 when he continued to harass the victim.

He went into custody voluntarily but was later released on bail to attend residential treatment for his alcohol addiction. He remained on bail until the trial and did not contact Mr Staines again.

McLoughlin took the stand to apologise to Mr Staines for the "unjustified and unnecessary stress and hurt I have caused him and his family".

He added: "As I sat in court listening to him, my heart froze. Having listened to the messages I realised the serious grievous wrong I had done."

He said he then instructed his barristers that he wished to change his plea to guilty.

Irish Independent

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