Man to go on trial accused of coercively controlling woman and threatening to maliciously share intimate images of her
• Yesterday 16:46
A MAN has been sent for trial accused of harassing a woman, coercively controlling her and threatening to maliciously share intimate pictures of her.
The accused (55) had a book of evidence served on him when he appeared in Dublin District Court today.
Judge Bryan Smyth sent him for trial to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
A previously-imposed ban on publishing his name will remain in force until the case comes before the circuit court.
The man is accused of harassing the woman at various locations in the State over 16 days in February 2021, under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
He faces a connected Domestic Violence charge of persistent controlling or coercive behaviour against the woman, with whom he previously had an intimate relationship.
The final charge is under the recently-introduced Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020 and is for threatening to distribute or publish intimate images without consent with intent to cause harm.
This law covers cases of online harassment and bullying as well as so-called “revenge porn.” It does not specifically provide for the anonymity of an accused, but prohibits reporting of information that could lead to the identity of the alleged victim.
Prosecuting solicitor Anna Bridgeman today told the court a book of evidence had been served on the accused. The DPP was consenting to the accused being returned for trial to the current sittings of the circuit court on the three charges, she said.
Judge Smyth ordered the prosecution to disclose evidence to the defence and gave the accused the formal notice that he has 14 days to furnish the prosecution with any alibi details.
When asked if he understood this, he answered: “Yes, judge”.
The judge remanded him on bail on existing terms to a date next month and when asked to acknowledge his signature on the bond, he again replied: “Yes, Judge.”
On the last court date, Judge Smyth had granted anonymity to the accused following an application by Defence barrister Keith Spencer, which was consented to by the DPP.
The court had heard the alleged victim did in fact consent to the man being named in the media. However, the judge made the non-publication order after hearing gardai were not sure that the woman was fully aware of what naming the accused “means for her.”
Today, Mr Spencer again raised the issue of publication of his client’s identity, saying the “status quo should apply” and it could be addressed in the circuit court.
Ms Bridgeman agreed that “we can deal with it in the circuit court.”
The accused, who denies all charges, is not in receipt of free legal aid.
The 2020 Act was introduced to deal with the non-consensual sharing of intimate images and online harassment. It is known as Coco’s Law after 21-year-old Nicole “Coco” Fox took her own life following years of online bullying.
On conviction, the offence carries a potential maximum seven-year sentence, as does the other harassment charge, while coercive control can result in five years imprisonment.