Wednesday 17 July 2019

Man (78) sent pornographic magazines to woman for four years

Porn mags posted anonymously

Des Geraghty pictured leaving Sligo Courthouse last Thursday. Pic: Donal Hackett
Des Geraghty pictured leaving Sligo Courthouse last Thursday. Pic: Donal Hackett

A 78-year-old former Defence Forces officer described as a 'trusted old family friend' anonymously sent pornographic magazines over the course of four years to the home of his late colleague's daughter.

The woman emotionally read out her Victim Impact Statement at Sligo District Court last Thursday in which she told Judge Kevin Kilrane she was terrorised by the actions of Des Geraghty who had been a regular caller to the family home for many years to reminisce with her late father about their time spent in the Army.

She said she received the first magazine, which she initially believed to be a package from college, on November 24th 2014.

On opening the large brown envelope she discovered it contained a hardcore pornography magazine and dvd. She said she was shocked and disgusted to receive such vile material.

At the time she was a full-time carer of her mother, who she lived with and was ill. The woman said her mother could see how upset she was after receiving the package and told her to go to the gardaí which she did.

"I was embarrassed and ashamed about having to do this but the gardaí were very helpful," she told the court. They thought it was a once off but during the course of the following four years many more magazines were posted to her home.

"My mother died in November 2014 and I am now living alone. I became more frightened thinking about why I was being singled out.

"I didn't know who to trust and I was suspicious of everyone, male and female," she told the court.

She said she stopped saying hello to people she met in town. She told her neighbour what was going on and they said they would keep a watch.

She was scared and made sure to lock her front and back door every evening. After her mother died, she started working with a charity as an administrator in a job she enjoys very much.

She said that the magazines kept coming and she then contacted a neighbour who worked in the post office.

It was discovered the stamp could be traced to a rural local post office and gardaí then checked CCTV where Des Geraghty, with an address at Meadowvale, Tonnaphubble, Sligo was subsequently identified as the man buying the stamps.

The woman told the court Geraghty had visited the family home for many years as he had served in the army with her late father for 50 years and they would spend time reminiscing about their time in the Defence Forces.

She said Geraghty was accepted by her family as a trusted old friend and when her dad died in 2000 he still called to see them. When her mother died in 2014 he called a few times and to her office at Christmas.

"When I identified Des Geraghty on CCTV I was outraged and upset that this man would send these magazines," she said.

Shortly after she identified him, Geraghty called to her office as it was close to Christmas, as he would regularly bring wine and chocolates at that time over the years. She said she was gobsmacked and tried not to breakdown.

When he left she then broke down and had to leave work early. In March 2018, gardaí informed her that Geraghty admitted sending the magazines.

She received a letter and a bank draft of €3,000 from him, she told the court. She photocopied both and sent them back to him.

"At the end of the letter he had said to take a cruise or something...I thought it was an attempt to sway me.

"I believe Des Geraghty is not a man to be trusted. He knowingly terrorised me for four years, even after my mother's death."

She said he posted these 'disgusting magazines' for four years in a case that was not simply a once off. "Des Geraghty has betrayed me and my late parents' welcomes into their home. His betrayal cannot be forgiven or forgotten," she added.

At an earlier court sitting, Geraghty pleaded guilty to harassing the woman on dates between October 1st 2014 and December 7th 2017. Defending solicitor Mr Mark Mullaney told the victim his client sincerely apologised to her for his behaviour.

He said she had given a very powerful Victim Impact Statement as was her right. He said Geraghty sincerely regrets and cannot explain his behaviour.

He knows he breached the relationship he had with her late father and mother.

He said that he recognised his wrongdoing and apologised to her. A letter from his psychologist was handed to the judge and Mr Mullaney explained that his client did attend counselling sessions in Dublin.

Mr Mullaney described it as a very unusual type of case and only for the diligent police work he was detected.

Mr Mullaney said it was absolutely shocking and disgusting what the victim was subjected to.

He said his client pleaded guilty in October 2018 and he decided to engage with a psychologist.

He asked the judge to take into account the early plea and how his client was remorseful for his behaviour.

Judge Kilrane enquired what Geraghty's marital status was and Mr Mullaney replied that he was married and cares for his wife who is not in the best of health.

They don't have children and he said he is now living in Dublin. He told the court that the victim has absolutely nothing to fear from this man.

Judge Kilrane described the behaviour of Gerraghty as extremely strange. He said he was born in 1941 and just shy of 80 years of age. He had no previous convictions.

The judge said Geraghty, having served in the army would reminisce with the victim's father about their days spent serving their country and so forth.

He said they were on the best of terms. The judge said he could only imagine Geraghty was harbouring some kind of perverse feelings towards the victim.

He said at the time she was vulnerable as her mother was sick and ultimately passed away.

He said the victim struck him as an upright and decent individual and he wondered if Gerraghty was trying to frighten her by sending the magazines.

"No one knows. Was it just blackguardism or was there a perversion of some kind," the judge said. He said that over time persons with some type of psycho sexual problems would become apparent but the victm's father had no fears in that department.

He said Geraghty's behaviour was a shocking breach of trust and asked was it some kind of psycho sexual problem that was behind it.

He said the naming and shaming of Geraghty was a very significant punishment for someone who served in the army and how with the public scandal he would be viewed with ridicule and contempt.

Judge Kilrane said this was a very serious punishment for a man who up to then was portrayed as an honourable man who had served his country.

He said Geraghty's wife, extended family and neighbours all know about it. The judge said there was no point in sending him to prison at his age.

He said he was going to deal with the matter by ordering Geraghty to pay €5000 to the North West Hospice and applied the Probation Act. He adjourned the case until July to have the monies paid.

Sligo Champion