Man who posted ‘vile messages’ to ex-girlfriend avoids jail

A man who destroyed an ex-girlfriend’s life by posting vile sexual messages on a website seven years after she ended their brief relationship, has avoided jail.

But Paul Monaghan, aged 34, from Cartron, Kilrooskey, Co Roscommon, was warned that he will do jail time if he steps out of line again.

Judge Tony Hunt imposed a four-year suspended sentence on Monaghan, who works with the Leitrim Development Company.

A childcare worker told a Roscommon Circuit Criminal Court last week that her life had been ruined by Monaghan, who she had gone out with for a couple of months seven years ago.

The woman said her life fell to pieces after she discovered explicit items about her on a website which suggested she was offering sexual favours.

Her full name and address were posted on the website and the woman said friends began to shun her. The disgusting messages were posted over an eight-month period in 2011 before she became aware of them.

A Garda investigation found the messages had been posted by Monaghan from an IP address at the house where he lived with his girlfriend in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim.

The victim, who said she had no contact since she broke it off with Monaghan seven years earlier because she found him domineering, said the crime had a massive impact on her life.

She had no idea who had posted the items and had no reason to suspect Monaghan.

The victim told Judge Hunt that she would not accept it was a reckless action by Monaghan, it had gone on for eight months, and it was designed to cause the maximum damage to her.

She said she could not concentrate on her work, she could not sleep and eventually her health deteriorated and she had to give up her job. She received counselling but could no longer afford it. She had spent all her savings on it.

Her family, especially her parents, had suffered. The victim said she went from being hard-working, caring for children and enjoying her life, to a person in need of counselling and trying to survive on social welfare.

She was reluctant to trust people. She had gone from being “a career woman to being a broken woman”.

Judge Hunt said yesterday he was concerned that Monaghan could not offer any explanation for his behaviour. He had made a token offer of €10,000 but it was “striking” that he could not offer any reason for the “disgusting” items posted on the website.

He said the internet was very useful in many ways but that it was also “a home for the bitter and twisted, anonymous and semi-literate”, to carry out offences.

He said that Monaghan was guilty of “a vile character assassination carried out in a nasty cowardly way under the cloak of anonymity,” and that he had “spewed out vile, repulsive filth” to a person he had known briefly in the past.

Monaghan’s father is a retired garda and his brother — a serving garda in Dublin — gave character witness evidence. He had no previous convictions.

Judge Hunt sentenced Monaghan to four years in prison but suspended it for four years and ordered him to remain under the direction of the Probation and Welfare Service. “I will give you some free advice,” Judge Hunt said to Monaghan. “Darken the door of this court under any circumstances again, or if there is the slightest peep out of you, and I will activate every day of that sentence.”

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