'Lovesick' man made single mum's life hell and 'dognapped' her terrier
A 'lovesick' Co Clare man 'dog-napped' a terrier as part of a campaign of harassment that made a single mother's life hell, a court has heard.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Francis Ryan (61), of Shantraud, Killaloe, pleaded guilty to harassing the woman from December 3, 2014, to January 5, 2015.
The 29-year-old woman had arrived in east Clare from the UK with her daughter.
Counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL, said that the woman lost the use of her legs for a time and Mr Ryan helped her out and the two were friendly.
However, Mr Connolly said that Mr Ryan's behaviour towards the woman changed after he saw her with a boyfriend.
He said that in late December 2014, the woman's cross-breed terrier dog, Red, went missing.
He said: "The taking of this woman's dog, or 'dog-napping', was part of a campaign of harassment."
Mr Connolly said that Mr Ryan secreted the dog away at dog kennels over a number of days. The court heard that at one stage Mr Ryan texted his victim to say that he knew a man who had her dog and he could take her to the dog if she wanted.
Mr Connolly said that during the month, Mr Ryan engaged in persistent unwanted phone-calls and communications.
Mr Connolly said that Mr Ryan's actions had made the woman's life hell. The dog was returned to the woman on January 5, 2015. Mr Ryan was convicted of an assault on the woman's boyfriend later in 2015.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said that she doesn't feel safe anymore. She said that the harassment that she endured has resulted in her having CCTV installed at her house.
"I have a new job but I worry about Francis finding out where I am working or doing something to my car or my animals when I am away from home," she said.
Counsel for Mr Ryan, Patrick Whyms BL, said that Mr Ryan "misread the signals".
"Mr Ryan lost the run of himself a little bit," he said. "Undoubtedly, his head was turned and he didn't pick up on signals someone with a wider life experience might have picked up on."
Mr Whyms said that his client pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
Judge Gerald Keys said that what occurred was a tragic situation but not unique. Judge Keys accepted that there was no risk of repeat behaviour by Mr Ryan and imposed a suspended 12-month jail term on him.