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Man who took 12,000 photos of female neighbour without consent to be re-sentenced

Mark Mooney pleaded guilty to harassing his neighbour and was originally convicted last year.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

THE HIGH COURT has directed the District Court to impose a new sentence on a man who admitted taking 12,000 pictures of a female neighbour without her knowledge or consent.

In 2018, Mark Mooney of Corish Park, Wexford Town was convicted before the District Court after he admitted harassing a neighbour, contrary to Section 10 of the 1997 Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

The District Court judge hearing the case imposed a nine-month custodial sentence on Mooney, who pleaded guilty, but suspended the final seven months on condition he does not reside within a distance of 8km of the injured party.

The District Court also made a separate permanent order preventing Mooney from residing within 8km of the woman.

Mooney brought a successful High Court challenge against his sentence in a case against the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The DPP opposed the action and argued that Mooney’s complaints should be dealt with by way of an appeal of the District Court’s orders to the Circuit Court.

In his judgement last month Mr Justice Garrett Simons agreed that the sentence was disproportionate and that it should be set aside.

The matter returned before the High Court yesterday when the Judge was informed that the sides were consenting to the matter being remitted back to Wexford District Court where a fresh sentence would be imposed on Mooney.

Concerns over District Court

Mr Justice Simons heard from Mooney’s victim, who was not a party to the High Court action, who expressed her unhappiness about the case being remitted back to the District Court.

The woman said her health had been badly affected by what Mooney had done to her, and said she was seeking justice and equal rights for herself.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Simons, who said he had taken the woman’s victim impact statement into account when hearing the case, said that the High Court could only deal with the limited issues raised before it and could only remit it back to the District Court.

He said the woman had raised concerns over the matter being remitted back to the District Court, which can only impose a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment, whereas the Circuit Court has the jurisdiction to impose a longer sentence.

In Mooney’s case, he said that the DPP had opted to try the matter before the District Court, and a judge of that court had accepted the jurisdiction of the case.

The clock could not be turned back in relation to the decision to try Mooney before the District Court, Mr Justice Simons said.

The judge said he was “fully aware of the devastating effect” of what Mooney did to her and said he had sympathy for the injured party.

He directed that the case be remitted back to Wexford District Court when a new sentence is to be imposed.

The court heard the sentence will be imposed by a different judge, as the Judge who imposed the original sentence has retired.

Thousands of photos

Mooney, who is aged in his 50′s, was convicted after he admitted taking thousands of photos of the woman over an eight-year period while she was in the garden of her house.

The woman was unaware that she was being photographed. Gardaí recovered the photographs from the hard drive of Mooney’s computer.

After the sentence was imposed Mooney brought High Court judicial review proceedings seeking to have the sentence set aside.

The action was brought on grounds including that it was unreasonable, disproportionate and adversely affected his constitutional rights.

It was also submitted that the District Court orders were made in excess of jurisdiction.

Mooney claimed that the order would prohibit him from residing in the town where he has always lived.

Mr Justice Simons set aside the sentence imposed on Mooney in its entirety.

The restriction imposed on Mooney, he said was “disproportionate in that it involves an unjustified and excessive interference with the applicants right to liberty and his right to free movement within the State.”

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Aodhan O Faolain

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