Friday, October 22, 2021

Olivia Kelleher

A woman who had an affair with a married man was treated like a “leper” on Cape Clear Island with the man’s adult son carrying out a two-year campaign of harassment against her, a court hearing in Cork city has heard.

Shane O’Driscoll (37) appeared before Cork Circuit Appeals Court where he made an unsuccessful bid to overturn a conviction, he received for harassing a woman on the West Cork Island on dates between the 1st of January 2017 and 1st of September 2018.

Mr O’Driscoll was without convictions prior to the offence and the offending behaviour has ceased.

Alleged harassment

The court heard that the harassment commenced on New Year’s Day 2017 when the news of the extra marital relationship between Shane’s father Fachtna O’Driscoll and the woman emerged like a “bolt from the blue” causing massive strife in the family.

The woman told Judge Eoin Garavan that she experienced a sustained campaign of verbal abuse at the hands of Shane O’Driscoll. She has since left the island but would like to return as she has a very elderly parent still living there.

She said cars had been driven close to her house late at night, that gutted dead fish was thrown in her backyard, and that one day Shane visited her house with his father and another man and kicked a door whilst being verbally abusive.

She also claimed that on one occasion O’Driscoll drove so close to her that his car touched her jacket and that he frequently shouted verbal abuse at her when they passed each other in their respective cars on the island.

She often feared for her safety as she claimed he drove near her at speed.

She said she dreaded coming towards O’Driscoll on the road because he would “make abusive gestures.”

Unknown caller

The woman admitted that she was anxious about getting on the island ferry to West Cork as O’Driscoll was frequently on board at that time as he was the skipper.

She claimed he frequently launched verbal attacks on her or glared at her in an intimidating manner.

She said that she often received nuisance phone calls from unknown numbers. She believes Shane O’Driscoll was the caller. She insisted her account of the abuse was truthful and that she had no reason to lie.

“I don’t fabricate stories. I put this stuff down (in a Microsoft file) in complete honesty. People saw and heard a lot. But people don’t want to get involved.”

Log of harassment

The woman logged all the instances of harassment by hand in a copy book before deciding to enter them into a Word document.

She initially went to a solicitor to have a solicitor’s letter sent to O’Driscoll. She decided to send a warning shot to O’Driscoll rather than going straight to gardaí.

“I was an emotional mess. I was terrified. I decided to go to a solicitor because it was less dangerous. I said to the gardaí, with no disrespect, where will you be at 2am (if something happens)? There is no gardaí on the island.”

The woman said that she felt like a “leper” especially on the ferry where she felt ostracised by certain staff and passengers.

“I was literally treated like a leper (on the ferry). My only wish was this to stop. It was a huge step to go to gardaí.”

Vendetta

Donal O’Sullivan, Barrister for Shane O’Driscoll, said that his client denied ever being verbally abusive to the woman. His client believes the woman was “making it (the claims) up” because of a “vendetta against the family.”

He claimed that his client was in Copenhagen with his wife during one instance in which the woman claimed harassment. He stated that the native of Cape Clear moved to Skibbereen in 2012 and was mainly only ever on the island for work on the ferry.

Shane O’Driscoll gave evidence in which he insisted that he never harassed the woman.

He denied ever verbally abusing the woman on board the ferry from Cape Clear to the West Cork mainland.

He also refuted suggestions put to him under cross-examination by State Solicitor, Malachy Boohig, that he had a “vendetta” against the woman.

“That is not true. Those things (harassment) did not happen. I never harassed or abused her.”

His wife Ciara O’Driscoll also said that there were many occasions that the woman alleged abuse where Shane simply wasn’t on the island.

Patrick O’Driscoll, who is not related to the O’Driscoll family, who was employed on the Cape Clear Ferry at the time of the alleged harassment said that he never saw Shane abuse the woman.

Pariah

When Judge Garavan asked if the woman was a “pariah on the island, Patrick O’Driscoll said that she wasn’t and that people in Cape Clear are “neighbourly”.

He emphasised trouble could come to any door, and he treated everyone with respect Justice Garavan said that he accepted the evidence of the woman was honest and truthful.

He stated that the woman spent a period of her life feeling “terrified” on the island and “unwelcome in the community.”

He said that Shane O’Driscoll’s motivation to harass the woman was that he was uncertain if the relationship between his mother and father was still ongoing.

He stressed the complainant was genuinely upset and found herself “somewhat ostracised” on the island.

Shane O’Driscoll received a six-month suspended sentence in July 2019 at a sitting of Bantry District Court after he was convicted of the harassment.

The conviction and sentence length was upheld, and Shane O’Driscoll was ordered not to come within 100 metres of the woman for the next five years.

The woman declined to give a victim impact statement and said she simply wanted assurance that Shane O’Driscoll would stay away from her.

Comments are closed.

Reporter
Contact Journalist: 051 874951

More National News

More by this Journalist