Saturday 21 September 2019

Ex-scientologist sent text to leader over woman's death

Plaintiff Zabrina Collins. Photo: Courtpix
Plaintiff Zabrina Collins. Photo: Courtpix
Defendant Peter Griffiths. Photo: Courtpix

Ray Managh

A former member of the Church of Scientology has been warned he faces serious consequences if he interferes with any member or does not stay away from the church or mission.

Embalmer John McGhee was given the warning by Judge James O'Donohoe in the Circuit Civil Court after being told by barrister Frank Beatty, counsel for two church members, that Mr McGhee had breached an existing court injunction.

Mr McGhee, of Armstrong Grove, Clara, Co Offaly, agreed he had sent leading Scientology Church member Zabrina Collins a text "connected with the death of Jim Carrey's girlfriend" in which he had stated: "Now you must see why your cult must be stopped."

He also agreed he had attended the church on New Year's Eve and had sent Ms Collins a Christmas card "because she was still on my mailing list".

When asked by Judge O'Donohoe why the church had not gone back to court about the breaches of the court injunction, Mr Beatty said: "There is a bit of a circus associated with court appearances and the church has to perform a balancing act with regard to appearing in court."

Mr McGhee, a father of two, and Peter Griffiths, of Teeling Street, Ballina, Co Mayo, have been sued by Zabrina Collins and fellow church member Michael O'Donnell for assault while they distributed anti-drugs literature in Capel Street in December 2014. Both claim they had been put in fear of both Mr McGhee and Mr Griffiths who had videoed the "protest" with a chest camera.

Both men deny assaulting Ms Collins, of The Boulevard, Mount Eustace, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, and Mr O'Donnell, a marketing consultant, of Cherrywood Lawn, Clondalkin, Dublin.

Judge O'Donohue told Mr Seamus O Tuithaill SC, who appeared for Mr Griffiths, he accepted his client had not breached the existing court injunction but he was "not so sure about Mr McGhee".

Judge O'Donohue, continuing the injunction until he has given his reserved judgment, told Mr McGhee not to have any further contact with the church, its members or lawyers.

In a separate defamation claim, Ms Collins earlier told the judge she "could have been a little more temperate" about what she said in an email to a school principal complaining about a former church member's talk to schoolboys on cults.

Ms Collins, who admitted in court to having had a teenage drugs and drinking problem, is being sued for defamation by Mr Griffiths, for what his counsel described as "a vicious character attack".

"I could have dealt with it in a more temperate way," she said.

Irish Independent

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