| 11.5°C Dublin

Barrister left 120 'intimidating and creepy' messages on man's phone

A BARRISTER has admitted leaving more than 120 "creepy" and "sexually intimidating" voicemail messages on a younger colleague's mobile phone.

Paul McLoughlin (49) of North Circular Road, Dublin dramatically 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 more than 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.

He said: "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 more than 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 29, 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's 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, McLoughlin repeats: "I want you to be my boyfriend."

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 many of the messages, McLoughlin taunted 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 yesterday to hear the changed plea, but did not react.

Irish Independent