Former Polegate councillor sentenced for harassing ex-wife while in prison
A former councillor who is already serving a 20-year sentence for the attempted murder of his wife has now been convicted of harassing and stalking her from his prison cell.
Sussex Police say Joseph O’Riordan formerly of Polegate, pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday (September 27) part of the way through the trial, to four offences of harassment and one offence of stalking during 2017, against Amanda O’Riordan.
The 77-year-old was sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment, to run consecutively with his 20-year sentence.
His Restraining Order was also changed to prohibit him from making any future court applications in relation to his ex-wife.
Police say the harassment offences related to four occasions between January and September 2017 on which O’Riordan sent vexatious civil claims applications by post from prison to her, in breach of a Crown Court Restraining Order.
This harassing conduct also amounted to stalking, police said.
All the offences were contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
In April 2015 Joseph O’Riordan was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court to 20 years imprisonment, after being convicted of the attempted murder by stabbing of his then wife at the address they then shared in Polegate in October 2014.
The Restraining Order was issued by the Court at the same time. She divorced him in 2016.
Detective Constable Lindsey Valder-Davis of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, who investigated the harassment and stalking offences, said, “O’Riordan showed no true remorse for what he had done to his wife in 2014. She still bears the scars of this attack both mentally and physically and this has now been made even worse by his further attempt to exert yet further control over her, adding to her distress.
“She instituted divorce proceedings in 2015 but rather than accept this and allow the process to be dealt with quickly, he disputed he had behaved unreasonably. He contested the divorce, which led to proceedings taking nearly a year and a half to conclude.
“After the divorce was finalised Joe O’Riordan put in a financial settlement claim to the family court claiming money from the divorce. He knew perfectly well, having been married for 24 years, that there weren’t any such funds.”
DC Valder-Davis continued, “The drawn-out divorce proceedings and subsequent financial claim caused her considerable stress and anxiety. In February 2017 he made a County Court claim for damages on the basis that she had made made false representations about him to the Court and to the police.
“The paperwork stated that she needed to reply within 14 days and she felt she had to pay for the services of a solicitor, which she could barely afford, and was only able to afford legal advice on how to draft the form herself. To her relief she was then sent a judgment stating the claim had been struck out without even being heard for disclosing no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim. It was in short an abuse of process.
“In spite of this further paperwork arrived at her address alleging she had not provided any reasonable grounds for defending the claim and hadn’t complied with civil procedure rules.
“Joe O’Riordan asked the court to make an order finding in his favour and demanding costs from her. She had to submit a further response. A Judgment then stated the application was being refused as the court had previously struck out the case.
“In spite of this O’Riordan didn’t stop. He issued another claim, this time to the High Court – demanding £90,000 damages alleging her misrepresentations were a substantial factor resulting in his conviction. But this time he sent the claim to the Court in the name of a relative to deliver a copy of the claim to her.
“The High Court transferred the case to Brighton County Court, where it was struck out in September 2017 as yet again the claim was an abuse of process.
“O’Riordan was made subject of an extended court-issued Restraining Order preventing him from issuing claims without permission from a judge. This has now been extended to prohibit him from making any more court applications against her.
“The effect of these claims on Amanda is significant. The emotional and psychological effect was enormous, adding to that caused by the stabbing.”