‘obsessed’ Dublin teen spared from prison over continued harassment of BBC journalist

An “obsessive” Dublin youth has been spared from prison and given a two-year probation supervision order for his continued online harassment of a BBC journalist.

Eighth, the then 17-year-old pleaded guilty to harassing BBC News Northern Ireland’s Eileen Moynagh in the four months since October 2020.

In February, six months’ custody was ordered by Judge Paul Kelly at the Dublin Children’s Court.

The youth, who is now 18 and an adult, faced punishment this evening. The court heard that he had several complex disorders.

Following arguments from defense attorney Aoife McNickel, Judge Kelly acknowledged that he had discretion and it was appropriate to extend reporting restrictions on publishing the identity of the youth because the case began when he was a minor.

During the hearing, he remarked that a pre-sentence probation service report contained “stark” material that the youth posed a risk to the community. However, he also admitted that imprisonment would not help him.

Kishor’s distraught mother reiterated her comments about the help given so far and being disappointed by the Health Services Executive (HSE).

Describing her son as a “sick child”, she said he was “not in control of his thoughts” and added that he is on a “bottomless pit” waiting list for mental health services.

The court heard today that the youth has now agreed to take a specific drug recommended, which the judge described as progress.

The young man did not have any further charges pending, although concerns were recently expressed about non-threatening messages to the two young women. One refused to give a statement and the other woman’s complaint did not amount to harassment.

Judge Kelly said he could no longer activate the deferred juvenile detention order and imposed a two-year probation bond with conditions.

He warned the teen that he should engage with his probationary officer and mental health services, take medication as directed by his treating doctor, continue his education and use his free time constructively.

He praised the investigating officer, Detective Garda Ken McGreevy, and wished the young man’s “devastated” mother, saying she did all she could.

Re-breaking or breaking of the terms may result in the case being reopened with the risk of a jail term. Judge Kelly said he sincerely hoped that would not happen.

The court heard that the teen followed a BBC reporter online after developing an “obsessive crush”.

He had previously been cautioned about similar trolling of two RTE journalists and his “unhealthy interest” in female journalists.

Det GDA McGreevy said the boy, at age 16, sent a litany of unsolicited and unsolicited communications via email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Despite Gardai’s warning not to contact him, he traveled to Belfast and was a few hundred yards from his workplace.

Out of fear she went out of her house for five days and was worried about her activities.

A psychiatric report said he had no remorse; He was at high risk of re-offending, committing violence, and relentless stalking. In addition, it detailed how the boy was a “disabled, isolated, lonely and at times angry youth” and presented “unique challenges”.

Earlier, Judge Kelly described Moynagh’s victim-impact statement as “tragic”.

He also noted the heartache of the boy’s father, who had told the court that he tried for years to get specialist help for his son.

Earlier, the court heard that HSE has identified a suitable facility. However, budget issues prevented it from being available.

Ms Moynagh first reported the harassment to PSNI, but the complaint was not made to the Republic, and the journalist later contacted Gardy.

The “high functioning” guy who aspired to be a journalist was banned from Twitter 150 times under various aliases.

In December, Ms Moynagh made a victim-effect statement in court, saying she hoped the case would “light” on the dangers of social media and act as a deterrent.

Later, the youth filed another guilty plea for threatening to harm a woman RTE journalist, which happened last November. This resulted in another one year probation bond.

He threatened a Garda and two others at a youth justice project. He confessed that he once hid in the bushes on the grounds of the RTE in Dublin, watching her exit the car park.

Detective Garda Michael McCallion said the boy claimed he wanted to mutilate her and admitted that he wanted her “off the air”.

Concerns were raised earlier that the boy also sent unsolicited messages to a girl student in Galway.

The court was told that he also lost the job of a person after making a baseless allegation.

The juvenile had a breakdown and was hospitalized for two months after similar harassment by two other journalists at RTE, which resulted in no court trial.

The court heard that diagnoses of autism, Asperger syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and trichotillomania hair-pulling disorder have been made.