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Jail after appeal for man who took over 12,000 photos of neighbour

A Wexford man who took a total of 12,840 photographs of his next door neighbour without her knowledge or consent arrived at Wexford Circuit Court last week to appeal a sentence handed down to him at the District Court.

Mark Mooney (57), formerly of 34 Corish Park and with a most recent address at a flat in George's Street, arrived in court accompanied by his sister to appeal a sentence handed down in the District Court at the end of November, where an eight month prison sentence was handed down, with the final month suspended.

On this occasion, the court once again heard the evidence of investigating Garda Paul Doyle, as well as a victim impact statement from the injured party along with Mooney's sister Caroline Walsh who spoke of his character.

Having deliberated overnight, Judge Cormac Quinn recalled the facts of the case. He said that Mooney had admitted to taking photos of the injured party sunbathing in her garden.

Two cameras were obtained on foot of a garda search warrant along with 2 PCs and an SD card. Judge Quinn stated that this harassment had taken place over a period from 2007 to 2015.

A total of 2,700 images were recovered, while 10,140 images were also recovered from an 'inaccessible area'. Judge Quinn stated that 'the majority of the photos involved the injured party sunbathing', while 'some of them were zoned in on certain areas'.

He noted that 59 photos were stored in a folder called 'Through the Hedge' and that the images were taken both from a height and through the hedge separating the properties.

Judge Quinn noted that Mooney's case had previously been the subject of a judicial review before being sent back to the District Court and pointed out that what he was dealing with was a district court appeal.

He noted that the maximum sentence available was 12 months with a fine and said that there were 'a number of aggravating factors' that needed to be looked at.

'This is a most serious case of harassment,' Judge Quinn said.

'There were a huge number of photos taken over a long protracted period of time. The offence was of a sexual, sinister and pre-meditated nature and was a gross invasion of the privacy of the injured party.'

Judge Quinn said that in passing sentence he would take into consideration that Mooney was co-operative and showed remorse, as well as the evidence of his sister Caroline Walsh. He also noted he was aware of a civil case taken by the injured party which resulted in Mooney selling the Corish Park house to pay compensation and moving to a flat in George's Street.

Noting that Mooney had no previous convictions, Judge Quinn said: 'In some cases, someone of previous good character will come before the court and a non custodial sentence is appropriate. However, due to the serious nature of this offence, this is not an appropriate case for a suspended sentence.'

On the single charge, Judge Quinn handed down seven months in prison, suspending the final three months over a period of two years on the condition that the defendant be of good behaviour in prison and stay out of trouble.

Another condition imposed by Judge Quinn was that for a period of five years, Mooney must not come within half a kilometre of the residence of his victim in Corish Park. Mooney gave no response, other than to confirm he understood his obligations, before being led away by gardaí.

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