Friday 20 September 2019

Gambler who tried to blackmail gay man sent to jail

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Ralph Riegel

A middle-aged man has been jailed for 18 months for attempting to run a complicated gay blackmail operation.

Neil Duggan (46), of Riverside Rise, Rushbrooke, Cobh, Co Cork, was jailed after he pleaded guilty to four charges of demanding money with menaces from a man.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that the defendant had demanded the 60-year-old victim hand over €7,500 after accusing him of sending text messages to a teenage boy.

The defendant, a painter by profession, also admitted threatening to kill the victim after meeting him in the car park of a Cork pub on April 17, 2017, when he had demanded the cash.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain was told by Detective Garda Gary Duggan that the offences arose from the victim using a gay website and arranging to meet a man he was fully convinced was aged over 18.

The victim arranged to meet the individual he understood was an adult, only to be confronted by the defendant on April 11 who accused him of sending text messages to a teenager and demanding that he accompany him to a Garda station over the matter.

After initially demanding €7,500 not to report the matter to gardaí, the defendant then demanded a further €10,000 from the man.

However, the victim at this point contacted gardaí and reported what had happened.

Gardaí were able to obtain CCTV footage from the various places the victim had met the defendant.

The court was told that Duggan was suffering from a chronic gambling problem at the time and was desperate for cash.

Judge O'Donnabhain heard the defendant was deeply remorseful for what had happened and the shame he had brought on his family.

The court heard he had repaid to the victim some €3,800 of the money he had received.

Judge O'Donnabhain said it was "an outrageous matter" and warned a custodial sentence was warranted.

"These threats were quite outrageous," he said.

The judge said the fake internet profile set up by Duggan had required a substantial amount of effort and planning.

He noted the defendant's plea and his co-operation with investigating gardaí.

The judge said avoiding a trial and the resultant stress for the victim had to be taken into account for the defendant.

He imposed a three-year sentence but agreed to suspend the final 18 months of the term.

Irish Independent

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