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File photo of a courtroom Sasko Lazarov/

Man who secretly filmed his ex-partner is spared jail

Sean Kershaw was given a three-year suspended jail term.

A MAN WHO placed a computer tablet in his ex-partner’s kitchen to secretly film her during a four-month period of harassment has been handed a three-year suspended jail term.

Sean Kershaw (38), of Linnetsfield Walk, Blanchardstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty to harassment on dates between 1 January and 11 April 2021 at Phibblestown House, Castaheany, Dublin.

Garda Jessica Maguire gave evidence that Kershaw’s former partner complained to gardaí that he had been harassing her for several months.

Kershaw told gardaí that he had acted out of jealousy, curiosity and concern for his daughter, after his former partner began a new relationship.

Judge Martin Nolan said Kershaw “could not get over the breakdown of the relationship” and had demonstrated an “obsessive streak”.

He imposed a three-year jail sentence today which he suspended for three years on the condition that Kershaw be of good behaviour for this period.

Judge Nolan also ordered that Kershaw was to have no direct or indirect contact with his former partner during this period and for the rest of Kershaw’s life, except as necessary to facilitate access arrangements to their daughter.

Garda Maguire gave evidence that the complainant was in her kitchen with her new partner around 8.30pm on 11 April 2021 when they noticed a shiny object on the counter.

The object was a computer tablet which was running a camera app and forwarding footage to Kershaw. Maguire said the device had been running for 36 days and several recordings had been saved by Kershaw.

Maguire said the complainant’s balcony door was unlocked without her knowledge. Her emails and WhatsApp had also been accessed and copies of WhatsApp messages were sent to Kershaw’s email address.

On one occasion, the complainant got out of the bath and found Kershaw at the window. He admitted watching her and said he would stop.

Kershaw was arrested on 13 April 2021 and a tablet and a phone were seized. Maguire agreed with defence counsel Jennifer Jackson BL that her client abided by his bail conditions and made full admissions to gardaí.

Kershaw had no previous convictions and has supervised access to his daughter. A victim impact statement was handed into the court, but not read aloud.

Jackson said Kershaw’s behaviour had been horrific and he apologised to his ex-partner and daughter for the trauma caused by his actions.

She said Kershaw had lost his job in March 2020 at the start of lockdown, but did not tell his partner. The couple separated in July 2020 when his former partner became aware of the situation.

They initially had a good relationship after the breakup however Kershaw’s inappropriate behaviour began when he became aware that she had started a new relationship.

Judge Nolan made a destruction order for any recordings and told Kershaw to hand over any other material to gardaí.

Additional evidence

The court heard that the complainant spotted Kershaw when she was on her way to work on several occasions, and saw him standing at corners along her route.

Kershaw also approached the woman’s new partner without her consent and told him not to tell her of their encounter. Garda Maguire gave evidence that Kershaw had sent a message of apology to the woman’s new partner.

Kershaw admitted listening at his ex-partner’s kitchen window on three occasions. He told gardaí that he had also accessed her laptop on three separate occasions and copied WhatsApp messages.

The court heard he is attending counselling sessions and a psychological report was submitted. Jackson said Kershaw and his ex-partner had been living in close proximity, but the defendant is looking to move.

Judge Nolan said Kershaw’s behaviour was suggestive of someone who wanted to control his former partner.

Jackson said this was not Kershaw’s initial motivation but he was concerned about his daughter growing up without her father present.

Kershaw’s own father had been abusive and left the family home when he was seven years old. Counsel said Kershaw had been concerned for the child’s welfare, though this did not justify his behaviour.

Eimear Dodd and Isabel Hayes