Serving Garda to 3 years for ‘heinous’ coercive control campaign against terminally ill partner

A serving Garda was sentenced to three years and three months in prison for forcibly controlling his terminally ill partner.

The 43-year-old woman told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday how her former partner Paul Moody told her the only reason he visited her in hospital was “to see you bleed to death”.

She gave her victim testimony at the hearing of the 42-year-old man who molested, threatened, assaulted, stole and controlled the woman for over four years after they met online in 2017.

The court heard the man had sent the woman over 30,000 messages over those years and 652 messages over a 14-hour period in July 2018, the equivalent of one message every 90 seconds.

The messages were described in court as threatening, abhorrent and offensive. In one message he described her as “riddled with cancer”, in another while she was on holiday without him he said he hoped she would “get raped and bleed”.

In another, after they fell out while on vacation together, he texted her the next morning, saying she was “flaunting your body by the pool” and calling her a “scumbag” and a “scumbag.”

In a voice message, the man threatened to stab her with a knife. He also took photos of her naked without her knowledge and threatened to post them online.

Moody, of St Raphael’s Manor, Celbridge, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one charge of in-state coercive control in relation to the woman between 1 January 2019 and 30 November 2020. The law for January 2019 came into force.

At his sentencing Tuesday, Judge Martin Nolan noted that the maximum sentence available to the court for this offense is five years. He said Moody’s conduct was at the highest end of the offense but the court needed to consider Moody’s guilty plea and he reduced a five-year principal sentence to three years and three months.

He said Moody had committed a catalog of heinous and degrading criminal misconduct. He said he abused his position as Garda to obtain information he used to harass and humiliate the victim and that he also endangered her life by driving recklessly at one point.

The guilty plea was accepted on the basis of complete facts on a further 19 counts, including molestation, assault, damaging property, threatening to damage property, endangerment, theft and threats to kill.

Moody joined the Gardaí in 2000 but was suspended from duty in March 2021 after his home was searched as a result of this investigation. Sean Gillane SC, who is defending himself, told the court that his An Garda Síochána client was resigning.

Detective Inspector Cormac Brennan told prosecutors Shane Costello SC that an investigation was launched into the man after he made a complaint about one of the woman’s relatives and handed over his own phone so it could be investigated in relation to that allegation.

Officers were concerned that he and the victim were in an abusive relationship and set up a meeting with the woman. She later filed a 280-page complaint.

The evidence book also contains 1GB of electronic data, the communications between him and the woman, which the attorney says is equivalent to 33,000 pages of information, or nearly two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The woman took the stand to read her victim’s impact testimony, in which she detailed how he broke her up “slowly and surely” after what was initially a normal relationship with a “charming” and “funny” man.

“I didn’t just fight cancer. I was dealing with a monster that would rob me of any chance of survival,” she said.

She said she couldn’t fight cancer and a war with it. “I always thought if I could get better, I could get away from him,” she said.

“I thought so many times he was going to kill me. I can feel his weight on my body, choking me and pulling my hair from the roots. I was afraid to show vulnerability because that’s when he attacked me the most,” the woman continued.

She said he knew how weak and ill she was from chemotherapy and described how he stole her cancer drugs because she knew she couldn’t afford to replace them.

She described an opportunity to drive to the hospital with Moody in the passenger seat. He became abusive and she stopped to let him out. He then took her hospital bag with him.

Later he came to the hospital. He told her the only reason he was there was “to see you bleed to death.” Moody began taking her in, and she asked to have him removed from the hospital.

“That was the last straw … that’s the day he broke me,” she said.

The woman said she felt like Moody knew what was on her mind because he had access to her phone.

“It felt like my mind was broken glass. I didn’t know what was right or wrong anymore because it broke my mind,” the woman continued.

She said she could no longer walk past a Lake Garda or Garda station without feeling physically ill and described how “the process to seek justice has taken its toll”.

“My time is very precious as I don’t know how much time I have left,” the woman said, before adding that the psychological abuse she suffered was worse than the violence. “He was beyond evil with his words”.

“I thought having cancer was the worst thing that ever happened to me, but I think it’s worse than any cancer. I couldn’t take any more of this man’s pain and torture,” the woman said, before adding that she had considered taking her own life.

“He stole so much from me that I’m not coming back. I was ashamed of what I had to endure from him. Other people’s shame and judgment allows the abuser to get away with so much,” the woman said.

“Women are afraid to tell the truth. I survived it with cancer so I want others to know they can too.” The woman concluded her statement by encouraging other people in a similar position to come forward.

On Monday, Judge Nolan adjourned the case overnight to allow him to consider a request by Mr Gillane to adjourn the case pending a psychological report. He said if he refused the adjournment he would proceed with the sentencing.

The man was remanded in custody pending this decision after the lawyer said his client was willing to have his bail revoked.

On Tuesday, Judge Nolan said a psychological evaluation was not required. “It is inconceivable to me that this would change my decision in any way given the five-year maximum sentence,” the judge commented.

Mr Gillane asked Judge Nolan to accept that his client had served An Garda Síochána for 20 years in which he had done good and difficult work, but accepted that the man had “dishonored himself and the organization”.

“Being a Garda was something he always wanted to be and it was seen by him as a great achievement and very, very important to him.” He added that it was an essential part of his identity and sense of himself.” , he said.

Mr Gillane said there was nothing in his client’s work and upbringing “whether personal, professional or otherwise” that could cause anyone to “suppose or infer” that he would end up in court over something as exciting or serious as this.

The attorney said his client had long-untreated mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, and said he was referred to a GP for help when he was an older teenager.

“People can try to keep the cork on the bottle for a period of time, can be both professional and social, which can’t be a cause for concern, but eventually the cork comes out of the bottle and long overdue problems arise,” said Mr Gillane said. He added that in this case, the problems encountered contributed to devastating consequences for the victim.

He asked Judge Nolan to consider the fact that his client had pleaded guilty, said he was responsible for what he did and there was public acknowledgment of what he did.

Mr Gillane said his client “made no mistake” before this offense and is now “deprived of everything that was important to him”. Serving Garda to 3 years for ‘heinous’ coercive control campaign against terminally ill partner

Fry Electronics Team

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