Sunday 22 October 2017

Student accused of US massacre threats in emails

Gerard Cunningham

A doctoral student charged with harassment sent emails to academic staff at Maynooth NUI which spoke of the Virginia Tech massacre in America where 32 died.

Adeniyi Adekoya, who at the time lived at 1 Earlsfort Court, Lucan, Co Dublin, is pleading not guilty to four charges of harassment in 2007 and 2008, while he was working towards his PhD at Maynooth NUI.

The court heard there were nine emails sent between July 2007 and March 2009.

Professor Gerry Boyle, who supervised Mr Adekoya's doctoral research, said he had met with Mr Adekoya several times, and given him detailed advice by telephone and email.

"Unfortunately, he did not take that advice and the meetings did not go too well," he told the court.

Professor Denis Conniffe, a retired professor and economist who worked part-time advising students on data analysis techniques, told the court he did not take the "implied threats" seriously at first.

Professor Donal O'Neill, at the time the acting department head, said he took Mr Adekoya's emails seriously.

"I found it quite disturbing," he said, in particular a reference to "the ugly incident at Virginia Tech".

"I was in Iowa University when a PhD student killed four staff members and a student," he told the court.

He contacted the registrar when he saw the email.

"Virginia Tech was a well-known event in the media," he said. "There was no ambiguity."



Shooting

The American shooting took place in April 2007, three months before the first email. "I found them upsetting, disturbing, threatening," Prof O'Neill said.

"The list to which they were copied just grew and grew. Anyone who came into contact with Mr Aekoya just got added to the list."

"In one email there were specific threats to me and my family," Prof O'Neill added.

He said Mr Adekoya wrote "I pray for the destruction of you and your family."

Mr Adekoya is representing himself at the trial in Naas Circuit Court.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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