Sunday 18 March 2018

First Dates star pleads guilty to harassing celebrity chef Dylan McGrath with hundreds of 'graphic, disturbing' texts

She will be sentenced at a later date

Daphney Sanasie pleaded guilty to harassing celebrity chef Dylan McGrath
Daphney Sanasie pleaded guilty to harassing celebrity chef Dylan McGrath

Andrew Phelan

RTE First Dates star and model Daphney Sanasie plagued celebrity chef Dylan McGrath with unwanted phone messages, including pictures and graphic, disturbing texts about “demons and souls.”

Sanasie (26) sent the Masterchef judge hundreds of messages, continuing after he pleaded with her to stop and told her she had “gone way too far”, a court heard.

The pair had been on two dates after meeting through a mutual friend before the harassment started.

Mr McGrath felt fearful and threatened by the messages when they reached a “crescendo.”

Sanasie told gardai when arrested she had been drinking when she sent the messages and “thought it was funny.”

Judge Michael Walsh adjourned sentencing at Dublin District Court.

As he left the Criminal Courts of Justice Mr McGrath said: “I’m glad it’s over.”

Sanasie, originally from South Africa but with an address at Jamestown Road, in Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to harassing Mr McGrath (39)  from September 9 until November 21, 2015.

She had originally indicated she would contest the charge but changed her plea today.

Barrister Seamus Clarke BL, for the prosecution, said Mr McGrath was a well-known chef and owner of a number of restaurants who had appeared on the Irish version of Masterchef.

Garda Colm Kelly said Mr McGrath complained about persistent messages he had received by Whatsapp ad SMS.

He explained he had met the accused through a mutual friend in late 2014 and they had met for dates on February 7 and 14, 2015.

He had no direct contact with her after that but there were further intermittent texts, mostly from Sanasie.

Mr McGrath became concerned about the tenor of some messages in March 2015 and told her to stop texting.

He said “stop texting me” and mentioned “not having the patience for the silliness in the text messages.”

There was intermittent contact up to summer and he became concerned about a request to his brother in relation to a supposed “celebrity footballer’s wedding” dinner.

Sanasie turned up at Mr McGrath’s restaurant with security guards and a photographer.

He sent a message telling her not to come to the restaurant, saying he had “family issues” and “didn’t want drama right now.”

In a text, Sanasie stated: “It’s about time I acted like a grown up and let this go.”

Matters “reached a crescendo” on September 9 with a series of messages, including three of a graphic nature.

Mr McGrath replied saying that he was sick of the messages, he had tried to ignore them and did not want any more.

He told her in a text to “pull it together and get on with it, respect that, stop being so selfish and indulgent.”

He received a message suggesting that she had been involved in an accident, but there was no such accident.

Garda Kelly agreed with Mr Clarke that there were images mentioning “demons and souls which (Mr McGrath) found disturbing.”

“He felt threatened and fear because he felt her behaviour wasn’t normal,” Mr Clarke said.

Sanasie threatened to come to the restaurant and said she had interviewed for a hostess job there, which was not true.

The contact continued and she texted “pick up, I want to clear something between us.”

On the weekend of November 14 to 15, there were 20 texts and 30 Whatsapp messages. The following day, Mr McGrath received 45 unwanted Whatsapp messages from her.

After he moved address, she texted that she knew where he lived and that they could meet in a cafe close by.

He texted her that she had “gone way too far” and should speak to someone, the court heard. His message ended with “no more contact ever, please” in bold capitals.

She followed that up with a request that he apologise for ignoring her.

She textd “you have to forgive, seriously last chance and he texted “forgive you, I do” in an attempt to put a line in the sand, but it did not work and she continued.

Between September 9 and November 20 he received 120 Whatsapp messages alone, the court heard.

Sometimes, there would be laughing on the other line and he would know it was Sanasie because he could recognise her distinctive voice.

The accused was arrested on December 1 and told gardai she had got his messages asking her to stop but she did not think he was serious.

“She said she was doing it because she wanted to annoy him and thought it was funny.”

She admitted all the unwanted contact with him was while she was under the influence of alcohol.

Mr McGrath did ot give victim impact evidence and wanted “to move on with his life,” the court heard.

He had been going through a lot of pain with his back and the harassment had caused him “undue stress.”

Sanasie had no previous convictions, was registered as a student here but intended returning to South Africa.

Defence Barrister Gareth Robinson said Mr McGrath had initially contacted the accused.

It was “just a couple of liaisons initially.” Sanasie wanted to “put this behind her.”

Judge Walsh said he wanted to read the transcript of messages in more detail before sentencing and adjourned the case to a date next month.

At Mr Clarke’s request the judge ordered the accused not to tweet about the case.

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