Man guilty of 'malicious and evil' bullying of boy through text messages
A 27-year-old man has pleaded guilty to subjecting a 14-year-old boy to months of harassment and bullying via text message in a case described as "malicious and evil" by the judge.
Brian Flynn of Lanmore Liscarney, Westport, Co Mayo, carried out the harassment against his teenage victim between November 2011 and August 2012.
Yesterday at Westport Children's Court, Judge Mary Devins commended the young victim for being able to cope with such prolonged abuse.
"It is all credit to your son that he didn't take the way out that some other youngsters have done recently and it's also a credit to you as parents," she said.
Over the course of 10 months, the teenager received up to 500 text messages of a abusive, threatening or sexually explicit nature.
The messages repeatedly referred to the teen as "gay boy" called him a "f***ing bitch" and warned that a group of people would "teach you a lesson".
Text messages were also sent to locals in the Westport area claiming to be from the young victim and signed off by him.
As a result of these texts the teenager was assaulted by a number of people.
The court heard that he had taken up his campaign against his young victim for no apparent reason. He yesterday apologised in court to his victim and the teenager's family.
"I just can't apologise enough. It will be with me for the rest of my life. I know I've caused so much trouble to someone so young and it tears me up to know I've done it and I'll never be able to put it right," he said.
Flynn had carried out the abuse with one mobile phone and five SIM cards, all of which were ready to go and do not have to be registered.
As a result of the abuse, the teenager's parents took his phone to gardai in December 2011. The messages were then monitored.
Gardai enlisted the help of its Crime and Security branch and Vodafone in a bid to trace the culprit.
They were able to monitor when Flynn's phone was topped up and Sgt Pat Lavelle of Westport garda station then downloaded CCTV footage of Flynn buying the top-ups from local service stations.
He arrested Flynn on August 24 last.
The court heard that Flynn began his campaign against the teenager shortly after his own phone went missing and was used to hack his Facebook account. However, his victim was in no way involved in this incident.
"It was my own problems that I let build up over the years that had all come to a head and I was looking for a distraction I suppose," said Flynn.
The court heard that Flynn had never been before the courts before. Since his arrest he has lost his job and lives with his parents. He no longer has a mobile phone, sim card or computer.
He is now receiving treatment and has been referred to a psychiatrist.
Judge Devins adjourned sentencing until February and requested a psychiatric report on Flynn.