Listowel District Court heard that a childhood friendship between two women “soured” to the point that one of the women would drive past the other’s house slowly, look in the window of her house, and hoot the car horn at her.
Michaela Cusack (22) of 21 Cashen Close, Dun Álainn, Clieveragh, Listowel, was before the court last Thursday charged with harassing Leah Murphy on various dates between October 20, 2019, and April 30, 2020, at the injured party’s address at 4 Stokers Lawn, Listowel.
Sgt Kieran O’Connell told the court that Ms Cusack and Ms Murphy attended secondary school and, later, further education together, but their friendship turned sour in July 2019 when Ms Cusack became friendly with another woman. They went their separate ways as regards friendship, Sgt O’Connell said.
Ms Murphy made a complaint to Gardaí on April 30 last year, and the court heard that from October 20 onwards, Ms Cusack would drive past Ms Murphy’s house “very slowly”, look in the window of her house, and sound the car horn at her. Such incidents could take place between 15 and 20 times a day, the court heard, and between April 1 and April 30, 2020, Ms Murphy noted 116 such incidents. The injured party noted 43 further records of the accused driving past her house or staring in the window, Sgt O’Connell said, between May 1 and 18 that year.
On April 28, a lady called to the door of Ms Murphy’s house and asked to speak to her. Ms Murphy’s mother went to the door, told the woman that Ms Murphy wasn’t in, and asked her to leave the property. “Don’t worry about it, Leah, we’ll talk about it at some stage,” the woman who came to the door said.
Sgt O’Connell said that the incidents put Ms Murphy in great fear. Ms Cusack was arrested by Gardaí and interviewed in February of this year, at which time she said she “didn’t mean for her [Ms Murphy] to feel intimidated by me being there”.
Ms Cusack, a single mother, has no previous convictions. A victim-impact statement was given by Ms Murphy, and Mr Ahern acknowledged that the volume of the incidents had been very difficult for the complainant.
He said the two women had been the best of friends, and that once it was pointed out to Ms Cusack that she was breaking the law, her behaviour stopped.
Judge David Waters described Ms Cusack’s behaviour as “bizarre” but adjourned the matter until December 16 to allow for a full probation report to be carried out.