Sunday 25 March 2018

First Dates star who harassed celebrity chef Dylan McGrath spared criminal record

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 Daphney Sanasie has been ordered to stay away from celebrity chef Dylan McGrath, after plaguing him with unwanted phone messages, including disturbing texts about “demons and souls”.

Sanasie (26), a South African model, was banned indefinitely from all contact with the Masterchef star and must stay away from his restaurants and places of business.

However Judge Michael Walsh left her without a criminal record, or jail time, saying he had reviewed the case and decided the evidence did not meet the “threshold” for a conviction.

He noted that one text sent by Mr McGrath had been “impolite to say the least.”

Speaking after the case, Sanasie said she had “no hard feelings” toward Mr McGrath, who was not in court for today’s ruling.

She said she wished him “all the best” and that there had been a “misunderstanding.”

Dublin District Court heard she had harassed Mr McGrath with hundreds of messages, continuing after he pleaded with her to stop and told her she had “gone way too far”.

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.”

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

Judge Walsh said today he had read the transcript of texts exchanged between the accused and Mr McGrath.

He said of the texts before September 9 that year, he found nothing that could be described as “humiliating, intimidating or abusive, or designed to wear Mr McGrath down or cause him stress.”

In some instances there were “mixed messages and mixed signals” coming from Mr McGrath, he said.

The judge quoted texts from Mr McGrath stating: “what’s wrong, darling? I’m at a dinner at a conference in Spain.”

In others, Mr McGrath had texted: “I love that coat from your photo” and “I feel like that often.”

The context and meaning was sometimes difficult to decipher but the impression up to this was that relations were “certainly not strained,” Judge Walsh continued.

After this, however, he said things took “a nasty turn” and became somewhat strained. The narrative of one message sent by Mr McGrath he felt would be “unacceptable to most people’s eyes”, “impolite to say the least” and hurtful to Sanasie who replied “How dare you insult me.”

Civility was restored for a time but Sanasie continued to send messages after she was asked to stop - 45 on one day. The judge noted alcohol had been consumed by the accused.

The judge said having carefully considered the case, he found “the evidence doesn’t meet the threshold necessary to impose a conviction.”

He instead ordered Sanasie under Section 10 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act to have “no contact whatsoever” with Mr McGrath, directly or indirectly, including on social media.

She is also to stay away from his place of residence, restaurants and all business premises.

Phones that were seized are to have all information deleted before they are returned to her.

Ms Sanasie changed her lawyer during the hearing - barrister Gareth Robinson said her solicitor was coming off record. Solicitor Anarine McAllister said Michael Staines solicitors were coming on record in the case.

Recognisances were set in the event of an appeal.

Speaking outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, Sanasie said she was “very grateful” for today’s outcome.

“While the legal matter’s being concluded I would like to take some time and reflect on everything, so in the meantime I would like to thank Gerald Kean and all my fans and the lovely messages they have been sending, my friends and family and just lastly I would like to thank Anarine and Jane from Michael Staines solicitors for being here on my behalf today,” Sanasie said.

“I am very delighted with the whole outcome. It has been a very difficult time for me because it took a whole year and I’m just glad that eventually it’s over and I hope everybody else can just move on with their lives,” she continued.

Asked if she had anything to say to Dylan McGrath, she said: “Apparently he’s been sick the whole year so I just hope he gets well, whatever’s wrong with him. I do wish him all the best.

Ms Sanasie went on to say Gerald Kean was “a friend”. She then read out a message from one of her fans.

“Throughout the whole time, ever since last year I had people, like one fan wrote to me, and I quote - ‘Dear Daphne, I admire you, you’ve been very brave and strong. I enjoy your motivational posts. You inspire me never to give up in life, no matter how hard the situation may be.’”

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

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 texts, Mr McGrath became concerned about the tenor of some messages and told her to stop texting.

He later 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.

On another occasion, he received a message suggesting that she had been involved in an accident, but there was no such accident.

The court heard 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.

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.

He texted “no more contact ever, please” in bold capitals.

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.

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.

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

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