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Saturday 16 December 2017

Driver made 800 nuisance calls 'just to annoy' crash claim man

The court heard the calls stopped immediately after gardai searched the defendant's home. (stock photo)
The court heard the calls stopped immediately after gardai searched the defendant's home. (stock photo)

A driver made more than 800 nuisance calls in two months to a motorist who had made an insurance claim against him after a crash.

Derek Byrne (48) made the calls during the night and early in the morning to "annoy" Michael Nugent.

Dun Laoghaire District Court heard Byrne called the solicitor 56 times on one Sunday alone.

Mr Nugent said the phone calls were stressful and worrying and forced him to increase security at his home and office.

Byrne, of Rosemount Estate, Dundrum, admitted harassing Mr Nugent between April 22 and June 28, 2013.

Judge Anne Watkin ordered a probation report and adjourned sentencing to March.

The court was told the harassment arose from a collision between the men's cars in March 2013, when Byrne's ran into the back of Mr Nugent's.

The court heard they had a heated discussion, gardai were called and statements were taken but nothing arose.

On April 22, Mr Nugent received a payment from Byrne's insurance company for damage to his vehicle.

Treated

The court heard the harassing phone calls began within hours of the insurance settlement.

Defence solicitor Chris Hourigan said Byrne felt badly treated following the collision and thought he would "just annoy Mr Nugent back".

Initially, the calls were only to Mr Nugent's mobile phone, but later they were also made to his business phone.

In total, there were 801 phone calls, nearly all of which were hang-ups.

Byrne did not say anything when the phone was answered.

The court heard the calls stopped immediately after gardai searched the defendant's home.

Byrne made some admissions but told gardai he "did not realise there was so many".

The court was told Byrne had no previous convictions.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Nugent said the calls were stressful and worrying, and especially impacted on his family and his secretary, who gardai warned to be vigilant about their own safety.

Mr Hourigan said the defendant, an unemployed security officer, had written a letter of apology to Mr Nugent and was very sorry for his behaviour.

He added that Byrne had "learned his lesson".

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