‘Neighbour from hell’ receives four-month suspended sentence

By Brendan Grehan

A NEIGHBOUR who harassed three of his neighbours and filmed one of them engaged in a sexual act while on his back decking has received a four-month suspended sentence in Blanchardstown District Court.

Judge David McHugh also made an order directing Thomas Kelly to remove the cameras behind his house and that he allows the gardai to inspect that they have been removed.

blanchardstown courthouseHe also ordered that Kelly must stay away from the injured parties “fortwith” and “sine die”. He said the level of harassment merited that he make the order “sine die”.

Kelly was before Judge McHugh to hear victim impact statements and for sentencing.

Kelly installed CCTV cameras at the back of Weir View in Lucan which looked down on his neighbours. The live feed from 16 cameras were then fed into a large tv in his sitting room.

Kelly had told the court that after he filmed Paul Lynam masturbating, he reported the incident to Tusla. He also wrote a letter to the then Minister For Justice, Frances Fitzgerald.

Kelly, aged 65, Weir View, Lucan, had been found guilty of two counts of harassing Mr Lynam at Weir View, Lucan, on dates between July 1 and July 15, 2016.

He had also been found guilty of harassing John Mooney at another address at Weir View on a date between February 1, 2016 and February 12, 2016 and of harassing William Stapleton at another address at Weir View on a date between February 1 and February 12, 2016.

The court had heard that on February 11, 2016, a Garda assisted a Detective-Inspector with a search of three premises at Weir View owned by Kelly. In Kelly's house there were two 50 to 60 inch tv's in the living room.

One of the tv's was set to a normal channel and the other to a number of live CCTV feeds. The gardai later found a camera on the escarpment behind the house pointed at the three injured parties homes.

On July 15, 2016, the Gardai again went to Kelly's house where they saw the two tv's set up in the same way. He said another camera was found in the escarpment.

Mr Lynam had told the court that he had lived in Weir View for 15 years and that he had a funny feeling that he was being watched.

John Mooney, a Security Correspondent with The Sunday Times, had also told the court that he felt he was being watched.

He had told the court: “Living there is a nightmare at the moment. I can’t articulate how I feel. I feel I’m being watched. The back of my house is in darkness. I can’t allow my young daughter to open the blinds at the back of the house in case we are being filmed”.

William Stapleton had told the court that he had lived in Weir View all his life. He said he was shocked when he discovered he and his family were being watched on cameras.

Kelly was before Judge McHugh for sentencing and for him to see the victim impact statements.

Judge McHugh read the victim impact statements but did not read them out.

Kelly's solicitor Valerie Buckley said her client was a pensioner who had never come to the attention of the gardai before or since.

She said the charges arose from a land dispute that was currently before the civil courts.

Kelly was someone who was very focussed in relation to that dispute and “perhaps a little bit too focussed in relation to the security aspect,” she said.

Ms Buckley said the media attention on Kelly following the hearing of the case was “very intense” and “distressing for him and his family”.

Ms Buckley asked the judge to deal with the case by way of an order for Kelly to stay away from the victims. She said Kelly had no reason to be in contact with his victims.

Judge McHugh told the court: “I consider this gentleman to be what is commonly known as the neighbour from hell."

He said the victim impact statements showed the effect on the injured parties was over a prolonged period. Judge McHugh said there was no question of leaving Kelly without a conviction and instead the decision was “whether he serves".

He said it was a "close call" but he sentenced Kelly to four months jail, suspended for two years. Judge McHugh also made an order for Kelly to stay away from the victims “forthwith”.

Following an application from the DPP, Judge McHugh later changed his order that the sentence was suspended on condition that Kelly remove the cameras and that he allow the garda to inspect that they have been removed.

He also ordered that Kelly stay away from the victims “sine die”.

After previously applying for legal aid, Ms Buckley told Judge McHugh that Kelly was not proceeding with the application.

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