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Nanny harassed couple after she got brain injury

A BABYSITTER who harassed a couple after a "serious brain injury" changed her personality has received a suspended prison sentence of three years.

Caitriona Walsh (30) had worked as a nanny to the victim's children for six years before contracting viral encephalitis, an infection of the brain, in December 2006.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that this infection and a resulting "near death experience" changed Walsh's personality.



Concern

The couple, David Murphy and Orla Tormey, became concerned about her behaviour and in June 2008 they fired her.

Shortly after this, Walsh began sending abusive text messages to the couple's mobile phones.

At one stage she sent a text to Ms Tormey in which she claimed that her husband, Mr Murphy, was having an affair with someone else.

Garda Colin Connolly told Cathleen Noctor, prosecuting, that between June and November 2008 Walsh sent a total of 59 texts to the couple.

Walsh (30) of Pearse Avenue, Sallynoggin, pleaded guilty to the harassment of David Murphy between 2008 and 2009.

Judge Desmond Hogan said that in this case a prison sentence was not appropriate and would in fact make matters worse.

He imposed his sentence on the condition that Walsh does not communicate with the injured parties or their children by any means or at any place.

Gda Connolly said in one email sent to Mr Murphy, Walsh claimed that there had been a sexually inappropriate relationship between the two of them.

In the same email she described herself as a "mad crazy psycho" and said she was angry about losing her job.

The couple had treated Walsh as one of the family and had even asked her to be the godmother to one of their children.



Injury

Feargal Kavanagh SC, defending, said that a "serious brain injury" caused by the brain disease and that an accompanying "near death experience" had changed his client's personality.

He said that through her actions she had lost the family she dearly loved and they had lost a "very able and committed child minder".

Judge Hogan said that the offence was carried out as a result of the effects of the viral encephalitis on Walsh.

He said he thought a prison sentence was not appropriate but that he had to make sure that Walsh didn't repeat her actions.

Walsh was also ordered to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years and to carry out 240 hours of unpaid community work.

hnews@herald.ie