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Three-and-a-half years in jail for man who made menacing phone calls demanding money

Patrick Clarke made two phone calls to Paul Gilmartin, a man he did not know.

SCC Rolling 5 Source: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

A MAN WHO made menacing phone calls to a stranger demanding money has been sentenced to three-and-half years in prison.

Patrick Clarke (31) admitted to gardaí that he made two calls to Paul Gilmartin but he denied the charges of demanding money with menaces.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the two calls were made at a time when the victim was being subjected to a sustained level of threatening calls demanding the payment of €60,000 over to the sender.

After a two day trial a jury convicted Clarke of making an unwarranted demand with menace on 10 May 2012 with a view to making a gain for himself or another.

The jury also found Clarke, of Blanchardstown, Dublin, guilty by majority of the same offence on a date after 10 May 2012.

Judge Gerard Griffin suspended the final 18 months of the sentence for two years on strict conditions.

Clarke was arrested after one of the calls was traced to an anonymous SIM card pack bought by him in a mobile phone shop.

He told gardaí that he was asked by a man he didn’t know to buy the card and that later that same day he was asked to call Gilmartin’s number.

The court heard the two men didn’t know each other. Clarke rang Gilmartin and told him that “we know” where he lived, worked and what car he drove.

Nuisance calls

Clarke told him he was to “pay up or else”. Clarke said he made a second call in the following days and told him it was his “last chance” to pay up.

Gilmartin testified that he had been subjected to sustained nuisance calls and texts for weeks before and after the calls from Clarke. Clarke was only charged with making two calls and there was evidence that other people were involved.

The calls from a blocked number began on 8 May and the court heard the sender was demanding €60,000 to be paid over.

Gilmartin said he thought at first somebody was acting the idiot but as they continued he began recording them and contacted gardaí. A mobile number appeared with some of the later calls and the victim also received menacing text messages.

On 19 May the victim received a text stating “you’re going to be shot some night when you’re at home looking at porn”. Another text stated: “you’ve got to pay, I’ll cut your balls off.”

Clarke told gardaí that he never had any intention of harming the victim and said he would not do it again. He said he received no payment for making the calls.

Rory Staines BL, defending, told the jury that Gilmartin was an entirely innocent party who had been subjected to appalling abuse by telephone but said that his client did not make any of the threats to him.

Read: Man who pointed unloaded shotgun at garda has jail term increased

Read: Hacker avoids jail after sending readers of The Sun to page saying Rupert Murdoch had killed himself

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Declan Brennan

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