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Judge’s harsh words for man at centre of Cape Clear love affair

Monday, 29th July, 2019 7:05am
Judge’s harsh words for man at centre of Cape Clear love affair

Sgt Paul Kelly escorting Shane O'Driscoll and his mother Helen into court on Wednesday. (Photo: John Delea)

A WOMAN from Cape Clear was held in custody last Tuesday night after she was convicted of harassing and assaulting a woman who had an affair with her husband and bore him a son.

Helen O’Driscoll (61), of Lissamona, Cape Clear, was taken into custody late on Tuesday evening after a lengthy hearing at Skibbereen District Court.

Helen O’Driscoll and her son, Shane O’Driscoll (34), of Lissamona – who was also charged and convicted of harassing Ann O’Regan between January 1st  2017 and September 1st 2018 – were remanded in custody in Bandon to appear at Bantry District Court yesterday (Wednesday).

In Bantry Court, a six-month suspended sentence was imposed by Judge James McNulty on Helen O’Driscoll for assault and harassment. And a six-month sentence, which was also suspended, was imposed on Shane O’Driscoll on the charge of harassment.

The prison term was suspended on condition that they keep the peace for the next two years and that they each enter a bond of €20,000, €2,000 of which must be paid in cash.

Ann O’Regan had alleged that Helen O’Driscoll assaulted her by shoving her in a manner that resembled ‘a rugby tackle’ during Hallowe’en celebrations in the island’s clubhouse on October 31st.

She gave evidence on Tuesday in Skibbereen of what she claimed was a sustained campaign of harassment by both the mother and the son, which included insults, gestures and highly abusive language.

She said she was repeatedly called a slut, tramp, whore, prostitute, and a c**t, in a variety of locations including the island’s shop, restaurant, club and recycling centre.

She alleged that Shane O’Driscoll’s behaviour was menacing in the manner in the way he drove at her, while her son was in the car, and during ferry crossings when he was on duty as skipper, and she said he repeatedly made head-butting gestures towards her.

The witness said she had ‘a full relationship’ with Fachtna O’Driscoll that ended in November 2016. However, she alleged that the harassment only began when his wife found out in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2017, and Helen O’Driscoll called to her home at 3am.

Fachtna O’Driscoll told the court that what he had with Ann O’Regan was a one-night stand. He did, however, admit – when questioned by Judge James McNulty – that he used to call to Ann O’Regan from time to time to do ‘a few jobs’ for her around the house. He said: ‘There was no relationship. She had a fascination for me.’

Fachtna O’Driscoll did, however, admit to sending Ann O’Regan a solicitor’s letter saying he wanted no contact with her or the boy, now aged eight-and-a-half, because it was a condition of his reconciliation with his wife and his family.

When asked by the judge about maintenance for the child, Fachtna O’Driscoll said he had been paying it since April 2017, but Ann O’Regan said he made that conditional on a DNA test to prove paternity.

Both accused, who were legally represented by Liam O’Donovan, denied the charges and the solicitor pointed out that they have no previous convictions of any kind.

Shane O’Driscoll told Gda Ashe: ‘There isn’t a word of truth in any of it’ and he denied ever being abusive to Ann O’Regan.

Helen O’Driscoll said her health had suffered and she had a breakdown as a result of the situation and is no longer living on the island.

She said she had never assaulted anyone in her life but admitted stumbling while carrying drinks and connecting with Ann O’Regan’s shoulder as she was passing her in the bar on Hallowe’en night.

Mr O’Donovan asked the witness why there was no one in court to corroborate her evidence. She said: ‘People said they are afraid to come forward in case they are next in line. I want it to stop. I just want to be left alone so I can raise my son,’ she said.

When asked by Mr O’Donovan if she was being provocative because she had been ‘scorned’, Ann O’Regan said: ‘If he came to me tomorrow I would have nothing to do with him because of the cruelty he has inflicted on my son.’

In summing up, Judge McNulty said a lot of the evidence he heard reminded him of Ireland in the 1950s.

He concluded that ‘while Ann O’Regan may not be blameless, she has been subjected to sustained, deliberate and vulgar abuse which must have made her life a misery

‘Maybe she is able to give as good as she gets, but I imagine she is very much alone and surrounded by people who despise her and denounce her in public, using unfit words.’

In all of Helen O’Driscoll’s evidence, the judge sid there was ‘no mention of her husband’s infidelity as the cause of her distress.’

The judge said both Helen and Shane O’Driscoll had been ‘economical with the truth’. He noted that Fachtna O’Driscoll initially acknowledged paternity, but then asked for it to be kept a secret, and ‘then added insult to injury by requesting a DNA test’. 

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