ORDEAL OVER Gemma and Brian Langan.
Parents of bullied boy are very unhappy with trial outcome
Focus turns to SIM legislation
THE family of Harry Langan, who was subjected to ten months of abuse and harassment by Brian Flynn, have stated their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the trial. Flynn was given a suspended six-month prison sentence, a €600 fine and ordered to stay away from Harry by Judge Mary Devins last week.
Gemma Langan described the ruling as nothing more than ‘a big old slap on the wrists’.
“I think the outcome was lenient and the judge missed a great opportunity to lay down a benchmark in relation to cyber bullying,” said Gemma. “This is an issue that is becoming more prominent and which the Gardaí will have to deal with more and more, and I didn’t think the judge gave him what he deserved. She could have sent a strong message out, but I don’t feel the deterrent is there now.”
Gemma and her husband, Brian, are keen to close what has been a traumatic chapter in their lives, and despite the media spotlight shining firmly on them in the wake of last week’s hearing at Westport District Court, they no longer want to discuss Brian Flynn or what has happened.
However, they now hope that lessons can be learned from the case, and that another family can be spared similar torment, through legislation changes in relation to registering SIM cards and mobile phones. This aspect of their own story they will be driving on in the coming weeks and months.
“I wouldn’t want another family to go through this, not when it can be avoided. He [Flynn] had five SIM cards and he hid behind them and was allowed to wage a sustained campaign of hatred against a child by doing so. Other criminals use mobile phones to facilitate their crimes and this needs to be stopped. It is not just about children being bullied by text message, it is far more wide sweeping that that. If you are a good citizen you have nothing to worry about in producing your passport to get a SIM card.”
“We have been doing research and want to speak with phone companies and others with vested interest in this,” Gemma continued. “We will be making our feelings known to the Minister for Communications, the Taoiseach and other local deputies, but not until we have a concrete proposal based on real and thoroughly researched information.
“In Africa, there are 25 countries where you must register SIM cards. These are impoverished countries, but they see the benefit of this legislation in relation to crime prevention. It makes us wonder what is wrong with this country, what are we afraid of?”
Requests to appear on television shows this week have been declined and the couple say they want to get on with the job of raising their three children and look ahead not behind. To this end, they will be stepping back from the media spotlight, except in relation to the SIM card issue.
“What happened has been well covered, and we are eternally grateful to all who helped us escape that nightmare, particularly the local Gardaí who did a fantastic job, but we don’t want to keep talking about it. We want to move on from it now.”
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Westport man given suspended sentence for harassing teenage boy