A MOTHER-of-four broke down in tears after a judge ruled that a deluge of hate mail sent to her had come from the home of a former close friend.
Eileen Nestor was awarded €37,000 by the president of the Circuit Court Mr Justice Raymond Groarke for having her life 'turned upside down' by the anonymous letter-writing campaign of harassment.
Mrs Nestor of Cedar Lodge, Prospect, Gort, Co Galway, sued Nora Connolly and her husband Oliver of Rindifin, Gort, for damages arising from the receipt of the letters.
She suffered a nervous breakdown and had to give up her job as a result.
Galway Circuit Civil Court heard that Mrs Nestor applied for and secured a job as a porter with AIB in Gort in 2003.
Shortly after starting in her new position, she began to receive anonymous letters. Her husband Michael said that he approached gardai.
One letter questioned whether his wife was a man dressed in women's clothes, another referred to her as 'a low-class worker'.
In all, 24 letters were received, mostly by Mrs Nestor, but some by her husband and others by senior management figures in AIB. Mr Nestor said that his wife had to leave her job in 2005 because of the effect of the letters, which were arriving every six weeks.
The Connollys lived about a quarter-mile from the Nestors in Gort and Mr Nestor recalled that his brother had been best man at the Connolly wedding and the Connollys had been guests at their wedding.
Mrs Nestor's GP Dr Richard Joyce said the deterioration of her health had coincided with the arrival of the hate mail.
Gardai began an investigation into the letters and concluded that they amounted to a campaign of harassment.
Gardai made a breakthrough in 2004 when one of the letters contained a downloaded picture of the Nestor family home. Gardai were able to identify the website from which it came and tracked the source of the downloading to a computer linked to a phone line in the name of Oliver Connolly in Gort.