A 45-year old mother-of-three sent a “vile” Christmas card to an 11-year old schoolgirl, writes Gordon Deegan.
A judge said it was “a dastardly and appalling offence”.
In Kilrush District Court, Co Clare, yesterday, gardaí deemed the content of the card to be so offensive it could not be read out in open court.
The little girl was called “a bitch” and words to the effect of “we all hate you”.
In reply to the charge of sending a Christmas card through the post which contained words that were indecent, grossly offensive, and obscene, the woman said: “I’m so sorry. I was so wrong. If I could change things, I would. I will never do anything like that again.”
She pleaded guilty to the charge. On an application by solicitor John Casey, she was not identified.
“She has brought shame on herself,” he said.
The court heard previously that the girl, after opening the Christmas card last December in the upstairs of her home, came down screaming to her mother.
In court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan read out a victim impact statement from the girl, who has been receiving counselling as a result of the trauma brought on by the card’s contents.
In her statement, the girl said: “When I first got the letter, I was upset and kind of confused. I was a little mad and I really didn’t understand why someone would do it to me.”
She added: “I was kind of relieved when I found out who it was, because I didn’t really want to have to go to school and think ‘did this person send it to me?’”
The girl, who was not in court yesterday, said: “I was a bit confused why an adult would do that to me. I thought it was maybe something I had done that would make her do that. I was upset, because I didn’t want to think of Christmas as a time when I got a really mean letter.”
In order to identify the perpetrator’s hand-writing, the girl’s parents put the card up on Facebook and soon after the woman presented herself to gardaí.
Judge Durcan struck out the case after the woman agreed to pay €600 to the court’s poor box.
The judge said the offender had no previous convictions, has three children, was having difficulties at the time, and has herself received medical attention.
“It seems to me at this point the defendant has probably suffered considerably. Whatever issues there were to cause the defendant to do this are being addressed, medically.”
He told her: “You are not going to have a criminal record. I don’t think you are a criminal. I do think you have gone through a difficult time.
“There are cases where I hope a wrong will not lead to a complete septic situation; that is why I am making that order.”
Outside court yesterday, the girl’s father said: “It was a horrible and a grotesque thing to write to an 11-year-old. It was a despicable act.”
Earlier the judge had said a “vile package” of a malicious nature had been sent to the girl at a very sensitive time in the girl’s life.
The court had heard matters were fuelled by an incident between the defendant’s daughter and the victim when they were both aged eight.
Solicitor Mr Casey said that his client let her anger about the matter build up and said she was aware that this was an irrational reaction. He said she sought the help of mental health services.
This story first appeared in the
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