The Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau (GNCCB) has launched an investigation into a convicted criminal who is suspected of targeting women online in a series of “vitriolic” attacks.
Eamon Deegan, a software engineer from Ballinteer, has a conviction for carrying a 25cm hunting knife in an incident during which gardaí said he used the ‘N-word’ to racially abuse three teenagers at a train station.
The 55-year-old is now under investigation for “prolific” online abuse targeting women — including foreign nationals, the victims of crime, and women who have children with special needs.
It is understood gardaí have concerns the 55-year-old is behind the online attacks and there is a concern they could “escalate”.
Several women over the past number of years have been singled out for abuse, including the family of Dara Quigley.
The 36-year-old journalist and online blogger took her own life days after garda video footage of her being detained under the Mental Health Act while walking naked on a Dublin street was leaked online.
“Deegan is a known racist and these messages to women are hateful and despicable. It amounts to harassment, abuse and potentially stalking,” an informed source told the Sunday Independent.
“If he is behind the messages, he is a coward who targets people who are going through a difficult time in their lives. There are concerns this behaviour could escalate.”
In 2017 Deegan took an unsuccessful damages claim against Irish Rail as part of the same incident that saw him convicted over carrying the hunting knife.
He claimed two railway security men knocked him to the floor and jumped on his chest, injuring his ribs.
Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard Deegan had used the ‘N-word’ regarding three teenagers at Maynooth rail station on August 16, 2010.
Deegan denied having chased the young men into the station, shouting “you f***ing n*****s”. The youths eventually took refuge behind a number of security men.
He also denied being racially abusive and aggressive to the youths, and threatening to slash a security man’s throat.
His €60,000 damages claim for assault was thrown out by the judge.
Garda Stephen Cush told the court he had been called to the station and he saw Deegan being restrained by security.
A 25cm hunting knife was found in his rucksack.
Deegan was convicted of having a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to three months suspended.
Dismissing his civil case, Justice Groarke said there had been no evidence before the court of any injury to his ribs.
Deegan was previously investigated over online attacks against Cork South-West general election candidate Fiona O’Leary.
He told her she was a “suicide waiting to happen” in a series of messages on Facebook in 2016.
She was targeted by Deegan after she posted a video critical of the far-right Pegida party.
The messages encouraged Ms O’Leary and her family to engage in mass suicide and particularly took aim at her son, who has autism.
The former election candidate reported Deegan to gardaí, who was investigated over his attacks on the woman.
Ms O’Leary also received threatening phone calls in 2019, which she believes are linked to Deegan.
She previously spoke out about how these online interactions had impacted her.
“I have never threatened or abused anyone in my life — and as an autistic woman with autistic children, I am very concerned about these threatening messages,” she said.