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Man who carried out a ‘marketing campaign of harassment’ towards girl he met on escort web site avoids jail

A man who ran a “harassment campaign” against a woman he met on an escort website has been given a full suspended sentence.

Enda Holmes, 38, “bombed” the victim of phone calls and messages and her workplace began receiving calls. He also set up an account on the same escort website that included her phone number and mentioned her daughter’s name.

The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard that he has not contacted the victim since February 2020 after the matter was reported to gardaí.

Holmes of Rail Park, Maynooth, Co. Kildare pleaded guilty to the state harassment between March 29, 2019 and February 19, 2020. He has no criminal record.

Detective Garda Ciaran O’Reilly told prosecutor Diana Stuart BL that Holmes originally met with the victim in November 2018 after responding to an ad she posted on an “escort website”.

Det Gda O’Reilly said they met twice a week and developed a friendship in which she acted as a “shoulder to cry on”. Holmes bought her a Christmas present and helped her financially, including paying a phone bill.

The detective said the woman was uncomfortable with the arrangement as it became more demanding and she began to distance herself. She blocked his number, but he started contacting her in other ways.

The victim was pleased to have ended things on March 29, 2019. He continued to regularly pay her 200 euros by direct debit.

She received messages from him while other numbers called her and her place of work. He came to her place of work once, only to pretend to be “excited” as if he didn’t know she was working there.

The victim’s phone started “exploding” with calls after Holmes posted an ad on the same website containing her phone number and mentioning her daughter’s name.

She received a “bombshell” of calls from home numbers and messages with links that, when clicked, let people know your location. She changed jobs and addresses while also stopping the debit that Holmes had set up.

The victim received messages on the website from numerous accounts that she knew were from him. He also set up fake accounts in the names of their family members and contacted them with them.

The harassment stopped after the victim reported the incidents and Holmes was contacted by gardaí. In an interview with Gardaí, he fully admitted the act.

Det Gda O’Reilly agreed with Karl Finnegan BL, defending that while this was “a very horrific experience” for the victim and that some of the contacts were “unsavory, mean”, there were no direct threats of physical violence.

The detective agreed with the attorney that his client seemed “quite infatuated” with the victim and either believed that they were in a serious relationship or at least wanted them to be.

Mr Finnegan said his customer has a long history in construction. He said there was an incident at a construction site in March 2018 in which his client pointed a gun at him.

The attorney said his client suffered a “setback” related to the incident in early 2019, had nightmares and flashbacks and he is still being treated.

Mr Finnegan said his client’s health was not an excuse or a defense of his conduct, but he asked the judge to consider this as a background factor. He said his client was a person with an otherwise good character and a good work history.

Judge Melanie Greally said that when the victim tried to distance herself from Holmes it triggered the “harassment campaign” which took many different forms.

Judge Greally said the victim believed that the communications and material posted on the internet should cause harm to both her personal life and her career choices. She said the actions of the defendants undoubtedly had “deeply harrowing effects” on the victim.

She said a “not inconsiderable episode of poor mental health” coincided with the start of the crime. She said the harassment could be considered “atypical” at the time because of the defendant’s mental health and is unlikely to recur.

Judge Greally sentenced Holmes to two and a half years in prison, but suspended the sentence entirely under severe conditions.

She also ordered Holmes not to have any contact with the victim or to be within 1 km of her home or workplace for 10 years.

Judge Greally stated that failure to comply with this order was a separate offense with a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment.