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Friends of stalker victim left financially crippled by tormentor start fundraiser aiming to raise €28,000

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Laura O'Connell was subject to a campaign of harassment from Sonya Egan. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Laura O'Connell was subject to a campaign of harassment from Sonya Egan. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Sonya Egan was jailed for her prolonged harassment of Ms O'Connell and former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Provision

Sonya Egan was jailed for her prolonged harassment of Ms O'Connell and former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Provision

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Laura O'Connell was subject to a campaign of harassment from Sonya Egan. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Friends of a mother whose life was rendered “a living hell” by a relentless stalker have launched an appeal in a bid to help her get a fresh start.

Community activist Laura O'Connell wept as Sonya Egan (42) was jailed for two years by a Cork judge last month for a terrifying campaign of harassment that left her afraid to leave her own home, cost her an adored job, forced her to quit social media and even left her considering a move abroad in a bid to end her torment.

Ms O’Connell admitted to Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Egan’s campaign had effectively ruined her life – and left her almost €30,000 in debt after years of desperate legal efforts to get Egan to leave her alone.

Now, friends of Ms O'Connell have launched a GoFundMe appeal with the aim of raising €28,000 to allow her clear her debts and begin a new chapter of her life, safe from her stalker.

Ms O’Connell’s friends said that the harassment campaign had left her ill, forced her to leave the job she adored and left her dependent on social welfare and St Vincent de Paul support.

They said Ms O’Connell had endured “four years of hell” – and they launched the appeal to help her get a new start.

“During these horrendous and intolerable four years, Laura had nowhere to go for safety or protection because the laws and resources were just not there,” one friend said.

“The impact of her awful experience has affected not only her physical health but also her mental health.

“In addition to the ordeal, the lengthy time spent with gardaí preparing evidence, and a plethora of court trips have caused Laura colossal disruption to her home, work and business, leaving her grossly out of pocket.

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Sonya Egan was jailed for her prolonged harassment of Ms O'Connell and former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Provision

Sonya Egan was jailed for her prolonged harassment of Ms O'Connell and former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Provision

Sonya Egan was jailed for her prolonged harassment of Ms O'Connell and former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Provision

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“Unfortunately, during that time, things became so unbearable Laura was forced to seek an injunction.

“The courts ordered her perpetrator to pay the costs, but to date, these costs remain unpaid and have led to a judgment being executed against Laura for legal fees totalling €26,288.54.

“Laura’s resilience and strength understandably ran dry over the last four years. Bullying and harassment could happen to any of us, but this was a whole other level. There is nowhere for anyone to turn to until our laws and systems improve to protect the victim and put them first.”

Her friends said the appeal aimed to allow the young woman to move forward with her life.

“One day, she hopes to campaign for more humane and better rights for victims of crime when she is back on her feet and in a stronger place.

“Let’s help her in her quest to do this.”

Egan, a mother of three, was jailed for two years last month after she waged a terrifying campaign of harassment against Ms O'Connell and former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien.

Egan lodged an appeal against the severity of her sentence within 24 hours of being jailed.

She had falsely claimed to be the daughter of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and her relentless campaign of harassment was such that a judge noted it had caused "torment" for her two victims.

Egan told former Cork TD Jonathan O'Brien she loved him – and, having later made serious bullying accusations against the Cork politician, then promised him she would drop all the claims “if he gave in to her feelings for him”.

Judge Helen Boyle noted at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month the campaign of harassment went on for over a year, it was sustained, targeted not just at the two victims but their families including parents and children.

It also involved multiple routes of harassment including online platforms and had serious financial consequences for the victims.

Ms O’Connell, who fought back tears in delivering an emotional victim-impact statement at the court hearing, said Egan had ruined her life, left her living in fear and had rendered her financially crippled.

The victim said she was so “torn apart” by Egan’s actions she was considering leaving Ireland.

The impact of the false claims were aggravated by various conspiracy-theory groups taking Egan’s side.

When gardaí seized Egan’s phone, she was found to have made 5,500 calls, texts and social media messages to the Sinn Féin TD over a six-month period.

Egan also had 16 active Facebook accounts on her phone – including accounts in which she was falsely linked to Jeremy Corbyn and a relative of one of the Birmingham Six.

The woman at various times claimed to be a barrister and an investigative reporter.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of harassment against Mr O’Brien and Ms O’Connell.



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