Girl harassed by explicit calls and texts from stranger

A 17-year-old got 80 phonecalls and texts of a rude and explicit nature in one day from a man of more than twice her age whom she did not know.

Gardaí traced the series of harassing phonecalls to two unregistered phones. The unidentified and distressing calls had been going on from Christmas 2015 until May 2016.

It was only when the caller went to top up one of the phones with credit after the complaint was made that gardaí identified the caller as James Crowley, aged 38, of Ballintotis, Castlemartyr, Co Cork.

The teenager receiving the calls went to her local garda station in East Cork with her father on May 25, 2016. That day, she had received calls and texts totalling 80 from two unidentified numbers. The previous day she received up to 20 calls.

Dete Sgt Tony O’Flynn said an investigation was set up but the phones were not registered. When Crowley topped up one of the phones, he was identified. He was approached and co-operated with the investigation.

He pleaded guilty to harassment by phone. In 2009, he got an 11-month suspended sentence for a similar offence.

Peter O’Flynn, defending, said the accused had been experiencing social isolation but that since his family became aware of this case they had been supporting him and he had been seeing a counsellor and doing much better in his life.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he was not inclined to dispose of the case with a prison sentence yesterday.

He adjourned the matter until May 15, 2018.

“If the present level of progress and compliance is maintained I will see what I can do,” he said.

Det Sgt O’Flynn said it was not known how the defendant picked the young woman’s phone number as there was no connection between the parties.

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