Saturday 17 March 2018

How celebrity chef's romance with model turned bitter after a barrage of texts

Dylan McGrath and Daphney Sanasie
Dylan McGrath and Daphney Sanasie

Andrew Phelan

It started with a date between a reality show contestant and a celebrity chef but ended in the decidedly less romantic setting of Dublin District Court, where Daphney Sanasie arrived to learn her fate for harassing Dylan McGrath.

The 26-year-old South African model looked distinctly out of place in a green jumpsuit and black and white high heels as she sat in the public gallery clutching her black and gold Yves Saint Laurent handbag and glancing nervously around.

When Judge Michael Walsh ruled that she would be spared a criminal record for bombarding the 'MasterChef' star with unwanted text messages, she was visibly relieved.

The judge ordered the RTÉ 'First Dates' star to stay away from Mr McGrath indefinitely but left her without a conviction.

Daphney Sanasie escaped a conviction after pleading guilty
Daphney Sanasie escaped a conviction after pleading guilty

Ms Sanasie, who had pleaded guilty, told reporters outside that it had been a "misunderstanding" and that she had "no hard feelings" against the chef.

There was no repeat appearance by Mr McGrath, who had been in court at the previous hearing.

Before delivering a "carefully considered" decision, Judge Walsh recalled the evidence that had been heard.

Ms Sanasie, with an address at Jamestown Road in Dublin 8, harassed Mr McGrath (39) from September 9, 2015, until November 21 of that year, 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 - one of them on Valentine's Day.

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

MasterChef star Dylan McGrath had been bombarded with unwanted text messages by South
African model Daphney Sanasie Picture: Collins
MasterChef star Dylan McGrath had been bombarded with unwanted text messages by South African model Daphney Sanasie Picture: Collins

Ms Sanasie told gardaí when arrested she had been drinking when she sent the messages and "thought it was funny".

Judge Walsh said he had read the transcript of the messages. 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 a text from Mr McGrath stating: "What's wrong, darling? I'm at a dinner at a conference in Spain."

The impression up to this was that relations were "certainly not strained", Judge Walsh said.

After this, however, he said things took "a nasty turn".

The narrative of one message sent by Mr McGrath, Judge Walsh felt, would be "unacceptable to most people's eyes", "impolite to say the least" and hurtful to Ms Sanasie, who replied: "How dare you insult me."

Civility was restored for a time but Ms 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 he found "the evidence doesn't meet the threshold necessary to impose a conviction".

He instead ordered Ms Sanasie 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.

Speaking afterwards on the steps of the Criminal Courts of Justice, Ms Sanasie said she was "very grateful" for the outcome.

"I would like to thank... all my fans for the lovely messages they have been sending, my friends and family," she said.

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

"I have no hard feelings though there obviously was a misunderstanding with everything. I thought it was going to lead to something more and obviously it wasn't."

Irish Independent

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