Friday 13 December 2019

Mum harassed former friend with silent phonecalls and phantom pizza orders after 'mild school banter' between daughters

Aisling McCann was going through a difficult time
Aisling McCann was going through a difficult time
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Declan Brennan

A mother has avoided a jail term after she admitted harassing a former family friend for two months over some “mild school banter” between the women's young daughters.

In September 2015 Aisling McCann (34) began making anonymous silent phone calls to the victim from a blocked number. Over the next two months she harassed the victim by sending anonymous emails insulting her daughter and telling her to keep away from her children.

She would also order food online and have it delivered to the woman's home and ordered taxis to pick her up at her home.

McCann of Oaklands Park, Swords, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to nine charges of harassment on various dates between September 11 and November 22, 2015.

Garda Sergeant Gerry Holland told Tom Neville BL, prosecuting, that all the harassment grew out of some very mild school banter that was taken out of proportion by McCann at a stressful time in her life.

Judge Melanie Greally noted that McCann was going through a particularly difficult and vulnerable stage in her life. Instead of confiding in family members she was trying to manage her stress by drinking alcohol.

Judge Greally said she was suspending a 12 month prison sentence after taking into consideration the woman's lack of any other convictions and her very early plea of guilty.

When gardai went to McCann's house in December last (2015) the accused owned up to all the acts of harassment.

Sgt Holland told the court she was completely remorseful at that time. He said there was no logic to her behaviour, which he described as completely irrational.

He said the harassment stopped immediately after gardai confronted her. The victim had declined to make a victim impact statement and was just relieved it had stopped.

Before it was traced to McCann the harassment caused the victim fear and anxiety and was very distressing to her and her family, the court heard. Sgt Holland said that the former family friendship was now severed and unrecoverable.

Patrick Jackson BL, defending, said his client came from a very decent and honest family. He said the McCann family wished to thank the garda sergeant for his sensitivity in dealing with the matter.

He told the court that the two women's daughter had been friends and that McCann's daughter told her mother about some “very innocent innocuous comment”.

Counsel said McCann was drinking at the time and was under stress because her family home was in negative equity and her daughter was starting secondary school.

Sgt Holland said she had made the calls and sent the emails from her own smart phone and it was easy for gardai to trace them back to her.

In imposing sentence Judge Greally said McCann was a responsible and supportive parent who was going through a difficult period in her life.

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