Saturday 16 February 2019

'Obsessed' pensioner was a 'neighbour from hell'

Suspended sentence: Thomas Kelly had 16 CCTV cameras. Photo: Collins
Suspended sentence: Thomas Kelly had 16 CCTV cameras. Photo: Collins
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A homeowner who used hidden cameras to secretly film his neighbours with an "obsession bordering on paranoia" has been given a four-month suspended sentence.

Thomas Kelly (66), who had 16 CCTV cameras with live feeds to a TV in his living room, was spared jail after being found guilty of harassing three neighbours in what was described as a "land dispute of the worst kind".

He had denied the charges, maintaining a camera covered in camouflage netting was used to catch one of his neighbours - Paul Lynam - repeatedly engaging in a sex act in Mr Lynam's back garden.

Cameras

Kelly also claimed the 16 cameras were primarily used for security and to monitor the boundaries of his land.

Suspending the sentence for two years, Judge David McHugh told Blanchardstown District Court he considered Kelly a "neighbour from hell" and ordered him to stay away from the victims "forthwith" and indefinitely.

Kelly immediately served notice that he will appeal.

A pensioner of Weir View, Lucan, Co Dublin, Kelly was found guilty of two counts of harassing Mr Lynam at Weir View, Lucan, between July 1 and July 15, 2016.

He was also convicted of two more counts of harassing John Mooney and William Stapleton between February 1 and February 12 that year.

Defence solicitor Valerie Buckley said Kelly had never come to the attention of gardaí before or since.

She said the charges arose from a land dispute that was before the civil courts.

Kelly had been "perhaps a little bit too focused in relation to the security aspect".

Victim impact statements, which were not read out, showed the effect was over a prolonged period, the judge said.

In a trial at the non-jury court in July, evidence was heard that Mr Lynam had discovered two cameras on a cliff at the back of his home.

Watched

"I'd a feeling for a long time that I was being watched," he said.

Mr Lynam, along with neighbours Mr Mooney - a journalist - and Mr Stapleton, whose homes were also captured, complained to gardaí, who discovered a camera on top of a cliff.

Video footage showed zooming in on the rear of certain homes.

One clip appeared to show Mr Lynam to the rear of his own home masturbating. When asked by gardaí if that was the case, Mr Lynam said it was.

Kelly claimed he had witnessed Mr Lynam masturbating, complained to Tusla and used the camera to catch him in the act.

Irish Independent

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