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Former Scientologist sent message "connected with death of Jim Carrey's girlfriend" to Church member

The hearing regarding an assault charge against John McGhee is the second trial concerning the Church of Scientology in front of the Circuit Civil Court today.
Jan 28th 2016, 5:55 PM 48,113 0

Dublin_four_courts Dublin Circuit Civil Court Source: Wikimedia Commons

Updated 17.54

A FORMER MEMBER of the Church of Scientology was warned by a judge today that he would face serious consequences if he interfered with any member or did not stay away from the Church or mission.

In the second hearing today concerning the Church of Scientology, embalmer John McGhee was given the warning by Judge James O’Donohoe at the Circuit Civil Court after being told by barrister Frank Beatty, counsel for two Church members, that Mr McGhee had breached an existing court injunction.

McGhee, of Armstrong Grove, Clara, Co Offaly, told Mr Beatty that he had sent leading Church of Scientology member Zabrina Collins a text “connected with the death of Jim Carrey’s girlfriend” in which he had stated: “Now you must see why your cult must be stopped.”

He also agreed with Mr Beatty that he had attended the Church on New Year’s Eve and had sent Ms Collins a Christmas card “because she was still on my mailing list”.

When asked by Judge O’Donohoe why the Church had not gone back to court about the breaches of the court injunction, Mr Beatty said: “There is a bit of a circus associated with court appearances and the Church has to perform a balancing act with regard to appearing in court”.

Capel Street

McGhee, a father-of-two, and Peter Griffiths, of Cual Gara, Teeling Street, Ballina, Co Mayo, have been sued by Zabrina Collins and fellow Church member Michael O’Donnell for assault while they distributed anti-drugs literature on Capel Street in December 2014.

Both men denied having assaulted Ms Collins, of The Boulevard, Mount Eustace, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, and Mr O’Donnell, a marketing consultant, of Cherrywood Lawn, Clondalkin, Dublin.

Mr McGhee, who represented himself, said he would not have done what was alleged against him had he known it was possible to assault someone without physically touching them and by putting them in fear.

Judge O’Donohue told Mr Seamus O Tuithaill SC, who appeared with barrister John Smith and solicitor Cormac O’Ceallaigh for Griffiths, that he accepted their client had not breached the existing court injunction but he was “not so sure about Mr McGhee”.

Collins and O’Donnell told the court that McGhee had assaulted them while they attempted to deliver anti-drugs leaflets to shops in the Capel Street area. Both said they had been put in fear of both McGhee and Griffiths who had videoed the “protest” with a chest camera.

Judge O’Donohue, continuing the injunction until he has given his reserved judgment, told McGhee not to have any further contact with the Church, its members or lawyers, pending further order of the court.


The judge had already heard a defamation claim by Griffiths against Collins in relation to an e-mail she admitted sending to the principal of St David’s CBS in Artane, Dublin, following a talk on cults that Mr Griffiths had given to leaving cert boys at the school.

In that case, heard this morning, Collins told the judge she “could have been a little more temperate” in an email complaining about a former Church member who had spoken to a group of Dublin students about cults.

Counsel for Griffiths Seamus O Tuathail SC described the email as “a vicious character attack”.

“I could have dealt with it in a more temperate way,” Collins said of her complaint to the headmaster of St David’s CBS in Artane, Dublin, after Griffiths posted audio of the talk he gave the school’s Leaving Cert students online.

She told barrister John Smith, who appeared with Mr O Tuathail and solicitor Cormac O Ceallaigh, that she had sent the headmaster a link to an online video showing a picture of Griffiths naked, with only a Guy Fawkes mask covering his genitals.

Collins, a director of a Dublin chiropractic clinic, of The Boulevard, Mount Eustace, Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15, told Judge James O’Donohue she had written to the school principal as a concerned parent and not to besmirch Mr Griffiths.

She earlier told her barrister Frank Beatty that, while she did not have a child attending St David’s, she was involved in tutoring children on drugs awareness and felt she had a duty to complain.

In her email, Collins alleged that Griffiths had “openly and viciously” slandered the Church during the talk.

She accused him of being “an avid hate campaigner against Scientologists” and of “hate-mongering” against the Church.

‘Not a grain of truth’

The court heard that a teacher from St David’s had asked Griffiths to address school pupils on cults and that it was Mr Griffiths who had shared audio of his address, which warned the boys of the dangers of getting involved with the Church.

Mr Griffiths said he had been shocked, horrified and appalled when he learned of Ms Collins’ allegations, in which he said there was “not a grain of truth”.

He said her statements had lowered his reputation in the minds of right-thinking people while holding him up to hatred, ridicule and contempt.

Ms Collins (nee Shortt) is a daughter of publican Frank Shortt, who was falsely accused by corrupt gardaí of allowing drug-dealing in the nightclub he owned in Donegal.

In 2007, the Supreme Court more than doubled to €4.6 million damages awarded by the High Court to him after he was wrongly convicted in 1995 of allowing the sale of drugs at his Point Inn premises in Quigley’s Point, Innishowen, Co Donegal.

He was imprisoned for three years before being cleared.

Judgment was reserved by Judge O’Donohue in both cases.

Comments are closed on this article for legal reasons.

Originally published 13.10

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Ray Managh


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