A 78-year-old Carrick-on-Shannon man who was described as having serious sexual deviances was convicted and sentenced to four months in prison for harassment of a woman at Carrick-on-Shannon District Court last Friday.
“The nature of that deviant behaviour is I think the worst I ever heard and has been described in terms that I think has embarrassed everyone in court,” said Judge Kevin Kilrane prior to sentencing Jim Gorman, Convent House, Main St, Carrick-on-Shannon.
Mr Gorman pleaded guilty to harassment of a female contrary to Section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997. The charge related to harassment at a property at Ard na Sí, Attirory, Carrick-on- Shannon on dates between February 26, 2019 and February 25, 2020.
Detective Garda Brian McMahon, Carrick-on- Shannon, said that on February 2, 2020, the victim, Catherine Martin, was informed by her neighbours that they had observed the defendant acting suspiciously and had witnessed him entering Ms Martin's property.
She was so concerned by this information as she lives alone with her teenage son that she reported the matter to the gardai and had a CCTV system installed at her property.
On February 25, 2020, while at work, Ms Martin received CCTV footage on her mobile phone that showed the defendant lurking at the rear of her property. He was clearly visible peering through the rear door and windows of her home and exited the property concealing something under his jacket.
On February 26, Gardai executed a search warrant at the defendant's home and a number of exhibits were seized. On the same date, at 4.15pm, Det Gda McMahon arrested the defendant on suspicion of having committed an offence, namely harassment.
He was taken to Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station and interviewed by Det Gda McMahon and Garda Tom Currid on five occasions during the course of the detention and made extensive admissions during the interview.
He gave a detailed account of how he had admired Ms Martin as a person and how his admiration developed into a sexual curiosity. He stated that he had been trespassing on her property for about 12 to 18 months and had entered the curtilage of her property up to 10 times.
The defendant stated that he trespassed in order to rummage through her bins in the search for her most personal items which she had discarded. The defendant also made admissions to photographing Ms Martin from the window of his home when she had been observed in Carrick-on-Shannon town centre.
In the course of searching the defendant's property Gardai discovered a box concealed in his loft containing personal possessions discarded by Ms Martin which he had taken from her bin: a torn copy of her passport that he had reassembled, discarded pyjamas, old footwear, clothing, numerous pieces of underwear, dozens of ladies tights, and other personal private items. The box also contained four newspaper cuttings of photographs taken from the Leitrim Observer that featured Ms Martin.
He said he would wear the items he took from her bins and that he rubbed the items on his penis for his sexual gratification and he kept returning to her property to find newer items.
Det Gda McMahon told Judge Kilrane that in his opinion the investigation uncovered and exposed the defendant as a predator who preyed on the victim for his own sexual gratification. The evidence secured by the Gardai showed the defendant was infatuated with Ms Martin and his infatuation was sexually motivated.
“He entered her property for at least 12 months and stole her most intimate and personal belongings for his sexual gratification.
“There is no doubt the property discovered by the Gardai was accumulated over a number of years. The defendant had complete disregard for Ms Martin's feelings and emotional wellbeing,” he said.
In a victim impact statement, Catherine Martin said the CCTV images of Jim Gorman entering her property and leaving with what later transpired to be some of her most intimate belongings is an image that haunts her every day.
She said it has raised so many questions for her such as when exactly did it start, how many months or years has it been going on, why did he choose her and single her out, how often was he trespassing on her property, and were her movements being tracked and monitored. She said she was terrified that he knew where she was and that thought continues to haunt her.
“Every time I go out to my bins I get a terrible sick feeling in my stomach, a feeling of utter disgust of Jim Gorman rummaging through my bins in search of my most personal belongings and intimate items of clothing. The realisation of why he kept coming back to my bins has deepened the hurt, trauma and disgust,” she said.
Ms Martin said he defiled the sanctuary of her home and persona as a female and treated her “as an object solely for his sordid sexual gratification.”
She said it has repulsed her and shattered her confidence.
“It leaves me distraught, nervous and feeling extremely vulnerable. I fear for the future and wonder if he will continue to harass me and my son,” she said.
Ms Martin said she has always been a relatively private person and is upset that the harassment has thrown her and her son into the limelight.
“I felt especially humiliated and embarrassed having to go to the station and identify my most intimate and personal belongings,” she said.
Ms Martin said her home was a place she and her son felt safe and secure in, but not anymore. They have had no option but to increase security around their house.
She stated that they both have trouble sleeping and wake during the night. She lies awake many nights mulling over the traumatic events of the past few months.
She said she often puts on a brave face but has been holding back the tears.
“I should have been enjoying my summer holidays but instead have been consumed by the distressing facts of this case,” she said and added that she hopes no other woman or family “will suffer the anxiety, trauma, distress or disgust we have endured and continue to experience as a result of this predatory harassment.”
She concluded by thanking her fantastic neighbours for bringing the trespass to her attention and supporting them and she also thanked her wonderful family and friends for their care, love and support during this difficult time.
Gemma Gorman, one of Mr Gorman's four daughters, said the case had a massive impact on their family and they are so shocked and appalled and disgusted by it. “We're all so sorry, we have such immense sympathy with her and are disgusted ourselves,” she said.
She said the family brought him to his GP and he was referred to the HSE mental health service. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Carmel Gallagher assessed him and a report was handed into court.
She recommended he go see a psychotherapist, Dr Eimir McGrath. He has had three face to face sessions with her and will continue the programme with her for as long as it takes.
“We're making sure he gets the help he needs. He's a troubled man. Obviously my sympathy is with Ms Martin but to see the pain he's caused everyone is horrendous,” Ms Gorman said.
She gave an assurance to Ms Martin that this will never happen again.
Jim Gorman read out an apology to his victim in court for all of the stress and upset he has caused. He said is ashamed of his behaviour and takes full responsibility for what he has done. He gave her an assurance it will never, ever happen again.
Shane Geraghty BL, instructed by John McGuinness, said €5,000 was in court to pay the victim to offset the costs of CCTV arrangements to avoid any economic loss to her.
He said Mr Gorman was a man who devoted many years to local voluntary groups and said it is an abomination how he comes before the court.
“Clearly this man has issues, he's now taking steps to address those issues,” he said.
He added that a plea was indicated at the earliest available opportunity, he answered all the questions, assisted materially, and advised the Gardai about the box of items.
He said Mr Gorman is of limited means and was on free legal aid and asked Judge Kilrane to consider adjourning for a period to monitor him.
Judge Kilrane described the case as a very sad case for all parties. He noted from the report by Dr Gallagher that Mr Gorman had a similar incident 10 years ago that was not made public for which he received counselling and he could not ignore that.
He said the aggravating factors were that this lady was living on her own with her 15-year-old son and was vulnerable.
He said the defendant was a respected man in the community and involved himself in all types of charitable organisations and the last thing that would be suspected would be this type of thing.
Judge Kilrane said there are in fact two Mr Gormans, one that is a volunteer and a good family man who has reared a wonderful family.
“The other Mr Gorman is a man who has quite serious sexual deviances as have been outlined. The nature of that deviant behaviour is I think the worst I ever heard and has been described in terms that I think has embarrassed everyone in court,” he said.
He said he was masquerading as a very respectful man but the other side of him was a very dark side and that dark side continued and still continues.
He said the further aggravating factors are the effects it has had on the victim.
“The victim is disgusted, she's afraid, she is wracked by feelings of embarrassment and disgust,” he said.
He said Mr Gorman has a wife and four daughters and he knows what's involved with females and the privacy to which they are absolutely entitled.
He said Mr Gorman was fully aware, or ought to have been aware, of the crime he committed. “I'm surprised he was not aware all along and if he wasn't then there's something very seriously wrong with him. Undoubtedly Mr Gorman is sexually deviant in matters of that nature,” the judge said.
He said the defendant's reputation as a decent man about town is now “utterly shattered.”
“Public scandal, ridicule and odium are a result of all of this. He has been reduced in the minds of right thinking persons in the community and has hugely embarrassed his family and his own reputation is completely destroyed,” he said.
Judge Kilrane said his family are not in a any way to be tainted by the sins of the father.
“The secret life he was living as a sexual deviant has been blown apart and I think it will ensure this type of behaviour will not reoccur,” he said.
He said he didn't wish to “contaminate proceedings” with money and would leave the issue of compensation to be resolved by civil proceedings or by consent.
Judge Kilrane said he was satisfied the defendant will not re-offend. He was conscious of his age and his hearing difficulties but said the canons of sentencing involve the question of deterrence.
“We must send out a message that anyone who preys on a female in this fashion and especially the female we're talking about here, a decent lady living on her own with her 15-year-old son, no matter what age they are, must receive a prison sentence,” he said.
He convicted and sentenced him to four months imprisonment.
Recognisances were fixed in the event of an appeal with a €3,000 independent surety to be lodged.
A restraining order was placed on Mr Gorman not to approach within 2km of Ms Martin or her son for a period of two years with the terms of same to be agreed.