Ivor Callely gets suspended sentence for ripping up magazines and rubbing teabags on walls of doctor's office
DISGRACED former politician Ivor Callely carried out a campaign of harassment against a GP, pouring dirt around his waiting room, ripping magazines and rubbing teabags on the walls.
Callelly (60) was caught trashing the waiting room at the north Dublin practice after the doctor installed a hidden CCTV system.
Dublin District Court heard the pair were in a dispute over the building they shared, Callely believed the victim, Dr James Dolan, was stealing electricity and “flipped.”
Judge Kevin Staunton spared Callely jail, giving him an eight month suspended sentence after hearing he had been under “enormous pressure” at the time, had paid €500 compensation for the damage and apologised.
Callely had carried out a sustained campaign of harassment against Dr Dolan and his behaviour had been "bizarre", Judge Staunton said.
The former Fianna Fail TD and junior minister, with an address at St Lawrence Road, Clontarf pleaded guilty to one count of harassing Dr Dolan and seven of criminal damage at the waiting room of his practice at Howth Road, Dublin 3 in May and June last year.
Callely, wearing grey slacks, a navy blazer, white shirt and grey tie stood at the back of the courtroom’s public gallery until his case was called, then came forward.
Garda Declan O’Carolan said in evidence he arrested Callely at Howth Road on June 21 and brought him to Clontarf Garda Station, where the charges were put to him. He made no reply to any count after caution and was released on station bail pending today’s appearance, the court heard.
The DPP directed that the case should be dealt with summarily at district court level.
Callely was pleading guilty, his solicitor Noel O'Hanrahan said.
Gda O’Carolan then said Dr Dolan had been subjected to a “systemic campaign of criminal damage and incidents of a malicious nature.”
He had a hidden surveillance system installed in the waiting room and between May 3 and June 7 a number of incidents involving Callely were captured.
Callely was seen damaging the carpet and saddle board at the door on the threshold, throwing waste items from a dustpan onto the floor, and using a brush to spread the waste around the floor.
The doctor was in his office with patients at the time and on some occasions, Callely was seen standing directly outside the closed door as the doctor had private conversations inside. Once, he was seen stooping and putting his head next to the door handle.
He was seen tearing pieces of paper and throwing them around the waiting room, ripping magazines that had been left out as reading material for patients. One one recording, Callely removed something from his mouth and threw it on the floor. He was seen rubbing a sweeping brush on the wall and smearing a tea bag on the wall.
Callely also poured dirt from the vacuum cleaner in between pages of magazines.
The court heard he had previous convictions for using a false instrument and driving without an NCT cert and while holding a mobile phone.
Gda O’Carolan agreed with Mr O'Hanrahan that what happened was “very much alien to the character” of Callely. It occurred in a “context”, Mr Hanrahan said.
The court heard Callely had an office in the premises, was the main tenant and sub-let a property to Dr Dolan.
There had been an “acrimonious dispute” and Callely was of the view that “of the view that Dr Dolan had effectively stolen electricity,” Mr Hanrahan said.
There were civil proceedings before the courts.
Callely had gone through a “fair amount of significant trauma” over a number of years; he was financially broke, in the midst of marital litigation and under “enormous pressure.”
It was common knowledge that he had been the subject of “adverse, inordinate and vitriolic” comment in the media, Mr O'Hanrahan said.
“Under enormous pressure, he simply flipped and did a very stupid thing, for which he apologises” he continued.
Dr Dolan gave victim impact evidence, saying “I go to work with a sense of dread”. Not just the waiting room, but the rest of the building was in a “derelict state” which was embarassing, he said.
Dr Dolan said he was puzzled about what was happening in his waiting room at first and wondered if children were coming in and “messing” but then it became relentless and he suspected Callely. He then put the camera in the waiting room.
It was not a gratuitous attack on the doctor, as such, Mr O'Hanrahan said. Callely was a retired politician and was being “assaulted by adversity on all sides.”
He asked the judge to consider applying the Probation Act, leaving Callely without convictions, given the “grief and hurt” he had gone through.
Judge Staunton said he had listened with “incredulity” to the evidence.
“I think were these incidents not captured on CCTV, it would be very difficult for this court to accept that they happened, the behaviour seems so bizarre,” Judge Staunton said.
He said he accepted it was done under extreme pressure because he did not think “anyone in their right mind” would engage in this kind of behaviour.
However, he did not just “flip once,” the judge said.
“There appears to be a certain element of sustained harassment here which I cannot ignore,” he said. It was “not all about Mr Callely” and it appeared that by his actions he attempted to “seriously damage” Dr Dolan’s practice.
The behaviour was like something “one would see in a comedy sketch” but it was “not funny for Dr Dolan,” he said.
He suspended the sentence for a year on Callely entering a bond to be of good behaviour. Callely address the court only to reply "yes" when the judge asked him if he understood the terms of the bond.
The charges were under Section 10 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act and Section 2 of the Criminal Damage Act, have yet been heard.
Callely was involved in politics since he was first elected to Dublin City Council in 1985 and he was the youngest ever chairman of the old Eastern Health Board.
Elected to the Dail for Dublin North-Central in 1989, he was appointed a junior transport minister in 2002.
In 2005, he was forced to resign from the Cabinet after reports that a painter who worked on Eastern Health Board contracts had painted his home.
Callely resigned from the Fianna Fail party in 2010 amid controversy over expenses.
In 2014, he was jailed for five months after he admitted fraudulently claiming €4,207.45 in expenses from the Oireachtas on forged mobile phone invoices between November 2007 and December 2009, while he was a senator.