Wednesday 13 December 2017

Taxi driver who harassed ex-girlfriend over 'unrequited love' ordered to leave country

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Isabel Hayes and Fiona Ferguson

A taxi-driver who harassed his ex-girlfriend out of what a court called “unrequited love” has been ordered to leave the country.

Mihail Ghimisli (35) began harassing the woman three years after she broke up with him following a relationship which lasted a few weeks.

Counsel for Ghimisli told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court his client was acting under the effect of “unrequited love” and was willing to leave Ireland to avoid a custodial sentence.

Ghimisli, originally from Romania but with an address in Castlefield Court, Clonsilla, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of harassing Larina Belova on four occasions between May and July 2014.

Ghimisli has two previous convictions for harassing Ms Belova after the break-up of their brief relationship in 2011. The court heard the pair dated for just a few weeks, but Ghimisli became “obsessed” with Ms Belova.

Judge Melanie Greally noted Ms Belova had suffered ongoing distress as a result of Ghimisli's actions and that she had made clear to him that his approaches were entirety unwanted.

She said the offences appeared to be borne of a hopeless situation of unrequited love which Ghimisli had extreme difficulty in accepting.

Judge Greally imposed an 18 month sentence which she suspended in full on strict conditions including that he leave the country within 48 hours and undertake to provide his address in Romania to the investigating officer.

She ordered him not to communicate with Ms Belova for ten years by any means and not go within 20 kilometres of her home or workplace.

She warned Ghimisli that failing to abide by the orders would be a separate offence and he could be brought back to this country to be prosecuted for any such failure.

In a victim impact report, Ms Belova said she had been living in “constant fear” of Ghimisli. She had to move home, change her job and sell her car in the wake of the harassment.

Garda John Hayes agreed with Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that Ms Belova was driving to a petrol station on May 12, 2014 when she noticed Ghimisli in his taxi driving by her. He made eye contact with her before turning his car around and following her, Mr Baker said.

He followed her to the petrol station and was watching her fill up with petrol when Ms Belova “had the presence of mind” to take a photo of Ghimisli, the court heard. He left the scene shortly afterwards.

He knocked on her house door a few days later but Ms Belova's house mate shut the door in his face and he left immediately.

On July 3, Ghimisli followed Ms Belova when she was driving to her friend's house. As she was entering the building, he grabbed her by the hand, the court heard. “She managed to get away from him and slapped him in the face,” Mr Baker said.

Six days later on July 9, Ms Belova was again at home when she and her housemate heard knocking on the door. Her house mate looked out the window and saw Ghimisli throwing some flowers and a box of chocolates on Ms Belova's car before leaving the scene.

He has six previous convictions, including two for previously harassing Ms Belova.

John Berry BL, defending, said Ghimisli wished to apologise profusely to his victim. “This had a profound effect on her that can't be understated,” he said.

He said Ghimisli had been living in Ireland for nine years but he was willing to leave the country if he received a suspended sentence. He was refused bail earlier this year over garda concerns about his behaviour towards Ms Belova and had found his time in custody to be very hard, the court heard.

“In this particular case, where Ms Belova is very clearly concerned about his ongoing behaviour, a total exclusion would reflect this concern and give the confidence and security which is sought by Ms Belova,” Mr Berry said.

Mr Berry said this was “essentially a case of unrequited love”. He submitted it was at the lower end of the scale and that Ghimisli was not acting out of “base motives” when he carried out the offence.

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