Tuesday 20 February 2018

€2k fine for offensive post on ex-girlfriend's Facebook page

This court ruling is the first of its kind for the practice known as 'fraping'
This court ruling is the first of its kind for the practice known as 'fraping'

Conor Gallagher

A MAN has been fined €2,000 for criminal damage to his ex-girlfriend's Facebook page after he admitted posting an offensive 'status update'.

It is the first prosecution taken for what is commonly known as 'fraping'.

The man logged on to his ex-partner's Facebook using her phone and posted an update saying that she was "a whore" and would take "any offers".

The 30-year-old was acquitted by a jury last month of raping and falsely imprisoning the woman in her home on the same date.

However, he was found guilty of criminal damage to a social media account. The man was charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1991 which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a €10,000 fine.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan asked how he was supposed to assess the damage if nothing had physically been broken.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions replied that the offence had more in common with harassment than criminal damage and that the harm was reputational rather than monetary.

The judge noted there was no relevant precedence to guide him in sentencing. He called it a reprehensible offence which seriously damaged the woman's good name but said that "fortunately" the status was quickly spotted and taken down.

He imposed a €2,000 fine.

The man, who cannot be named because of the rape charge, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to criminal damage on April 6, 2011. He had pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning and raping the woman at her Donegal home in the early hours of April 6, 2011.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday the court heard that the woman had remained friends with the man after their relationship ended in January 2011.

A local garda told prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane SC that in the early hours of April 6, 2011, the accused went to her house to confront her over a perceived infidelity. When the accused later left the house, the woman noticed that he had taken her phone.

He went through her text messages, which confirmed to him that she was in a new relationship. He then logged into her Facebook from her phone and posted the 'status update''

The man was arrested shortly after. He admitted making the post and said it was because he was angry about the woman's new partner.

Defence counsel Isobel Kennedy said her client now has a new partner who was supporting him in court along with his parents. She said he has also secured a new job.

Irish Independent

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