Suspect held in teen boy's text bullying ordeal

Caroline Crawford

GARDAI have arrested a man in connection with a persistent bullying campaign which targeted a 15-year-old boy.

Harry Langan, from Westport, Co Mayo, was the victim of a persistent campaign of bullying via text messages and social networking sites for over 10 months.

He was sent a barrage of sickening text messages and also had his Facebook page hacked by his tormentor, while a derogatory Bebo account was also set up in his name.

The boy's family have spoken of their relief following the arrest of a man describing the ordeal as a "nightmare".

"Harry's fine now, but it was a nightmare. What he went through was 100 times worse than we could ever describe," said his father, Brian Langan.

He explained how the vile messages were sent by the bully to other people in the area, all claiming to come from his son.


The messages were being sent through a number of mobile phone numbers but all were signed using the teen's name.

The continuous bullying took its toll and he was assaulted after text messages purporting to come from him were sent to numerous people in the area.

In one case the messages were sent to the bereaved family of a young man who had committed suicide, suggesting he had been in a sexual relationship with the young teen.

"Fortunately I knew the family and was able to explain that the texts had nothing to do with Harry," said Mr Langan.

"Every week people were coming up and threatening him over the texts they thought he was sending to their families.

"He got hit as a result of this and he was grabbed in the town, the fella that grabbed him was in his 30s.

"We had to constantly explain that Harry had nothing to do with the messages," Mr Langan added.

The abuse began in November 2011 and remained regular over the course of the past 10 months.

The texts ultimately became so abusive that Harry's parents took possession of his phone to shield him from the comments. They also monitored the texts and alerted gardai.

After an extensive investigation, gardai in Westport arrested a man in his 20s over the harassment.

The man, who comes from a well-respected local family, has since been released from custody and a file is being prepared for the DPP.

The garda operation has been under way since the spring. It involved specialist gardai based in the Phoenix Park and high levels of co-operation with Vodafone. The family has received a lot of support from people in the area who are shocked that the boy could be harassed in this manner.

"I don't want any other family to go through what we went through.