A Ballyroan woman has been charged with sending malicious or obscene letters and Christmas cards to family members, in one instance faking a relative’s signature in an attempt to stop home care services for an 87-year-old woman.
At yesterday’s (Thursday, April 5) sitting of Portlaoise District Court, Eilish Hennessy (63), Pinehurst Lodge, Chapel Street, Ballyroan, was charged with offences under section 55 (b) of the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011.
Detective Garda Conor Egan gave evidence that around Christmas of 2016, the injured parties in the case received cards and letters from the accused which were obscene, with images of male genitalia on them.
All the injured parties were relations of the accused, except one who employed her daughter.
Garda Egan said the offences were committed “possibly over land”, with a dispute in the family.
He said one particular card was very malicious and had been sent to a grieving mother.
Ms Margaret Conroy, a first cousin of the accused, told the court that she had buried her sister that Christmas when she received the letter from the accused.
She said the accused had been “over her bed crying” when the witness’ sister was dying, and the accused had sent lovely letters the week before.
“For someone to use the same pen to write that letter to my mother, who was 87, is bad, sad and mad,” said Ms Conroy.
Ms Conroy said her mother had been in shock that someone who claimed to be her best friend could do this.
Judge Staines asked what was behind the incident, to which Ms Conroy replied: “Envy, jealousy, bitterness. I’m ashamed to say she’s a first cousin of mine.”
Ms Laura Bergin, a cousin of the accused, gave evidence that she received a Christmas card which upset her a lot.
“Who would sit down and write something like that?” she asked.
And a third witness, a Ms Bergin, gave evidence that she got a call from her grandmother about a letter which appeared to be written by Ms Bergin.
Ms Bergin said her grandmother had been fighting two years to get certain home care services, but a handwritten letter which was signed by Ms Bergin was asking for the services to be cancelled. The letter also claimed that Ms Bergin was getting a carer’s allowance to look after her grandmother, but all of this was false.
Ms Bergin also said that a letter purportedly signed by her had been submitted asking to cancel her grandmother’s ESB discount for her phone bill.
Ms Bergin said she reported this to the gardaí, as she couldn’t figure out who was trying to be her.
Ms Bergin said that from September to December of that year, her grandmother did not know who to let into her house as she did not know who to trust.
Defence for the accused said that Hennessy, a 63-year-old grandmother, had no previous convictions and suffered with serious health issues. Defence said that the accused was undergoing serious cancer treatment and asked that the case be adjourned to get medical reports.
The accused also had letters of apology.
Judge Staines said she was glad the witnesses had given their evidence and agreed to adjourn the matter to deal with penalty on the next date.
The matter was put back to July 19 for a probation report.