A 22-YEAR-old employed by a Scientology centre in Dublin is facing a 90-day prison sentence for making a menacing call to a West Cork autism campaigner, during which he called her a ‘spastic geebag’.
Nathan Moore of 1 Allenton Park, Tallaght, and his solicitor, Diarmuid Kelleher, claimed at Bantry District Court that the campaigner, Fiona O’Leary, had – in a previous call – questioned and goaded the then 20-year-old for 20 minutes.
The accused said he told his employers at the Church of Scientology at Firhouse in Tallaght about the call and admitted he subsequently phoned Fiona O’Leary, who had given the name ‘Chloe Smith’.
Nathan Moore admitted calling her ‘a spastic geebag’, and saying he would ‘box’ her up and down.
In evidence, Fiona O’Leary said the call from Nathan Moore was recorded on December 4th 2017, and it left her ‘living in fear and frightened to be alone.’ She said: ‘The fact that he threatened to box me really, really frightened me.’
Ms O’Leary – a mother of five, two of whom have autism – said she received other calls during the course of the following week, but no name was given, and there were no charges against anyone else in respect of those alleged calls.
The witness said the calls made her fear for her safety, and the safety of her children, and she was reluctant to leave her home in Dunmanway.
In cross-examination Mr Kelleher put it to Fiona O’Leary that she had ‘initiated, goaded, and baited’ the accused until he reacted. Fiona O’Leary denied this. She said their conversation was ‘polite’ and that her calls were ‘not rude or aggressive.’
Fiona O’Leary said she rang to try and find out about a funfair the Church of Scientology was planning to hold and if the people there would be garda-vetted.
During the course of the conversation, Fiona O’Leary said she had also questioned ‘quack’ treatments involving the use of bleach to treat children with autism.
Mr Kelleher questioned the witness about social media posts between December 4th and December 11th – the date she made a formal complaint to gardaí – and produced a screenshot that showed Fiona O’Leary had posted the accused’s mobile number on social media.
Mr Kelleher said his client had only been working at the centre for about a month. The accused gave evidence that he ‘felt completely lied to’.
‘I got confused and frustrated at the same time. It was an empty threat. I lost my temper,’ he said. The accused, who has no previous convictions, also informed the court that he told his mother about the call he made and she was ‘devastated’.
Judge James McNulty convicted Nathan Moore and sentenced him to 90 days in jail, to be suspended if the accused enters into a bond to keep the peace for two years, and if the Church of Scientology donates €10,000 to the Irish Society for Autism.
Mr Kelleher argued that Nathan Moore had ‘no control’ over the third party, the Church of Scientology, and that the court order was outside the court’s jurisdiction.
But Judge McNulty said the accused was, at the time of the offence, in the church’s centre and working on its behalf. Judge McNulty declined to change his order, but told Mr Kelleher that recognisances could be fixed for an appeal.