A Westport man who indulged in a ‘year of bullying and intimidation of a child’ by sending threatening and offensive text messages received a six-month suspended prison sentence at last week’s sitting of Westport District Court.
The sustained campaign against Harry Langan was waged over ten months, prompting his parents to go public with their plight in The Mayo News last May in a bid to stop the harassment.
Malicious text messages
Brian Flynn (27) of Lanmore, Liscarney, Westport harassed now-15-year-old Harry Langan between November 2011 and August 2012, during which time the teenager received up to 500 text messages of a sexual, threatening, obscene and malicious nature.
Judge Mary Devins said the young boy was so bullied and intimidated that he could well have suffered from much more serious consequences and paid tribute to his parents, Brian and Gemma.
“From what I have heard and read, he has survived a horrendous ordeal through his own strength and the strength and support of very loving parents,” she said.
The issue of compensation from Mr Flynn for his victim was raised by Judge Devins, but she was informed that compensation was not an issue and that the parents were not looking for any.
Evidence in the case was heard last December when Sergeant Pat Lavelle explained that the victim’s parents came to him in November 2011 to report that their son was receiving explicit texts on his mobile phone.
Sgt Lavelle said that Flynn had five SIM cards and that he would send texts both to Harry Langan and to others, signed by Harry Langan. One text sent, purporting to be from Harry Langan, said Harry wanted to meet someone at the top of Bridge Street and fight them.
Sgt Lavelle said Flynn sent ‘at least four to five texts every week’. The court heard a number of the text messages which had been sent to Harry Langan by Brian Flynn.
The first text read to the court said: ‘be warned [name withheld] and a few others are saying they’re going to head out to your school to teach you a lesson. Be on the look out’.
A further text read out by Sgt Lavelle read as follows: ‘You’ll need more than your Mammy minding you at the Octagon next week gayboy. A certain someone is getting out of jail and will be looking for you. I’ll give you the heads up though’.
Two others texts read into court said: ‘are you going to be hanging around town this evening Harry? I’ve someone that would like to meet you’ and ‘You’re a f***ing bitch Harry and I will see you soon’.
‘Ready to Go’ security highlighted
During the investigation, the SIM cards were found to be unregistered ‘Ready to Go’ cards that were being topped up. CCTV footage from two retail locations in Westport was analysed, and Flynn was seen in those locations close to the time when the phones were topped up.
He said that Flynn continued to send texts to Harry Langan up until the day he was arrested, even though the phone had by then been taken by his parents, Gemma and Brian Langan. Flynn was arrested at his place of work on Bridge Street, Westport, on August 24, 2012. He made a statement of admission but gave no explanation for his actions.
Mr Tom Walsh, solicitor for Mr Flynn said there his client made no excuses for what he did and was not trying to get away from his responsibilities. He also paid credit to his victim and parents for dealing with what they were put through.
The court heard that Mr Flynn was seeing psychiatrist, Dr John Connolly, and that he was also receiving counselling treatment and on medication. Mr Walsh said his client has suffered from other issues of a traumatic nature in his life and was suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Mr Walsh said this experience has given Mr Flynn an opportunity to grow and learn more about his own life and sexuality.
Mr Walsh also noted that there was a lack of identification needed when buying ‘Ready to Go’ phones, which needed to be highlighted, and Judge Devins agreed it was an issue worth highlighting.
When sentencing Mr Flynn, Judge Devins noted that he still has a part-time job cleaning a local school, and asked whether that position was appropriate and advisable. Ms Miriam Tallon, the Probation Officer said the job took place at the weekend when nobody was on the premises and that the school was aware of the case.
Superintendent Aiden Foley also expressed concerns saying it may be an issue. However, Judge Devins decided not to make an order but to note the issue.
Mr Flynn was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, which were suspended for 12 months on the condition he remains under the supervision of the Probation Service, continues to receive appropriate treatment and has absolutely no contact with Harry Langan. He was also fined €600.
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