Wednesday 21 March 2018

‘Crazy psycho’ childminder harassed family after losing job

A CHILDMINDER, who described herself as a "mad crazy psycho", began harassing a young south Dublin couple after a "serious brain injury" changed her personality, a court has heard.

Caitriona Walsh (30) of Pearse Avenue, Sallynoggin, pleaded guilty to the harassment of David Murphy, between June 11, 2008 and June 04, 2009.

Judge Desmond Hogan adjourned sentencing until July and remanded Walsh on bail with the condition that she have no contact with Mr Murphy or any of his family.

Walsh had worked as a nanny to Mr Murphy and his wife Orla Tormey's five children for six years, but in December 2006 she contracted viral encephalitis, an infection of the brain.

Garda Colin Connolly told Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that when Walsh returned to work after a number of weeks in hospital the couple noticed a change in her personality.

He said the couple had always treated Walsh as one of the family, but that this relationship began to deteriorate and they became concerned about her behaviour.

He said things came to a head in June 2008 when they decided to terminate her employment.

They refused to provide a job reference for Walsh because they believed she wasn't well and needed to seek help.

Gda Connolly said that Walsh then sent an email to Mr Murphy, in which she claimed that there had been a sexual inappropriate relationship between the two of them.

In the same email she referred to herself as a "mad crazy psycho" and said she was angry about losing her job.

The court heard that between June and November 2008 Walsh sent 59 texts to the couple, including one text to Ms Tormey in which she said her husband was having an affair with someone else.

In one text she asked what she had done wrong to lose her job and said she wanted a reference. She also asked if she could keep in touch with the children and said she cared about them.

Feargal Kavanagh SC, defending, said that a “serious brain injury” caused by the brain disease and that accompanying “near death experience” had changed his client’s personality.

He said that through her actions she had lost the family she dearly loved and they had lost a “very able and committed child minder”.

Judge Hogan said that the offence was carried out as a result of the effects of the viral encephalitis on Walsh.

He said he thought a prison sentence was not appropriate, but that he had to make sure that Walsh didn’t repeat her actions.

He remanded her on bail until next July and ordered that Walsh undergo an assessment by the Probation Services.

Gda Connolly said before she lost her job the couple had taken Walsh on family holidays, given her golf lessons and funded her to go on child care courses.

He said the couple had asked Walsh to be the godmother of one of their children.

The court heard that in one text Walsh wrote: "You can't just forget about things you care about. Not allowing me to see the kids doesn't help anyone unless you don't trust me with them which I hope isn't the case".

On another occasion she called to their home and wouldn't leave and she was later arrested.

She told gardai she had contracted meningitis and said "since then I haven't been well." She told them she was emotionally unstable and that Mr Murphy had told her to get help.

After her arrest she continued to text the couple. One "extremely upsetting" text made reference to Mr Murphy's brother who had died a year earlier and stated: "It could be me also".

Another text accused Ms Tormey of being "two faced" and said: "Two sickos, things don't go your way and you wreck people's lives. I can't take it any longer".

Walsh’s mother, Sam Walsh, said that she also noticed a change in the daughter’s personality after she had nearly died from the brain disease.

She told Mr Kavanagh that her daughter had five siblings and that their father had left the family home when they were children.

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