Sunday 26 January 2020

'Don't bother studying for your Leaving Cert. You won't be around for it' - Teacher guilty of stalking girl (17)

File photo
File photo

Nicola Donnelly

A TEACHER sent a 17-year-old girl a series of "vile and abusive" letters and texts over the course of 16 months.

The messages from the north Dublin music teacher were described as "full of foul language" and left the young girl fearing the teacher was coming to get her.

A court heard that one letter warned her not to study for her Leaving Cert as "you won't be around for it".

On another occasion he followed her from a train and stared at her while she waited to be collected by her mother.

The 39-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted buying phones for the purpose of sending abusive text messages to the teenager.

He admitted it was "despicable behaviour" and apologised profusely to the teenager for sending the correspondence and texts on special occasions such as Christmas and Easter.

The man pleaded guilty to harassing and stalking the teenager on various dates between February 27, 2014 and June 17 last year, and has offered to pay €15,000 compensation.

The girl began to receive the letters by post and text messages on her mobile phone in February 2014 after finishing lessons with him the previous year.

She continued to receive the letters and text messages, which were "vile and abusive, full of foul language" on occasions in April and December of the same year and the following January.

Gda Des Martin told Swords District Court that the defendant was also on the same train carriage as the teenager on another occasion.

He followed her from the station and "stared forcefully" at her while she waited for her mother to collect her.

Gda Martin said the teenager had received another letter early last year which she did not open but handed to gardai.

The letter partially read: "Don't bother studying for your Leaving Cert. You won't be around for it. It's a waste of time. Welcome to your nightmare."

In a victim impact statement that the girl read out in court, she said she was horrified and very distressed by the letters and texts.


"I felt very vulnerable and I was terrified to leave my house. Nothing was made easy by him. The messages were threatening in nature. He was saying he was coming to get me," she said.

"He intimidated and frighted me. I am still afraid. I hope he will leave me alone as I am still afraid and panic if I see someone who looks like him. It was an absolutely horrific ordeal for me."

The defendant, who has no previous convictions, said he "felt relief" when he was arrested.

He said it was "despicable behaviour" and apologised profusely to the teenager.

"I am embarrassed by it all and I think about what I did with such shame," he said.

"I wish I could do something to apologise and make it better. I feel so ashamed. I felt so bad at the time that I wanted her to feel the same way I felt. I just hate myself for it."

Defence solicitor Fiona D'Arcy said the defendant was "profoundly sorry".

"It is tragic that she had to go through something so horr- ific and scary. He takes 100pc responsibility and his shame is deep-seated. He hasn't stopped worrying about her," she said.

"The difficulty is if he receives a criminal conviction it will be the end of his career."

Ms D'Arcy said the teacher has saved up €15,000 to offer as compensation or to donate to a charity of the victim's choice.

She said he is also receiving counselling with a psychotherapist.

The teacher gave the court an undertaking that he would not communicate with the injured party or her family and would not approach her home and to stay away from her forever.

Judge Grainne O'Neill adjourned the case for finalisation for the victim to decide whether to accept the money.

"I don't want to give him false hope. It is unlikely he will avoid a conviction but I haven't made any decision yet," she said.

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