People should be required to provide ID when buying phones, judge says

Man jailed for sending ‘vile, disgusting, and graphic messages’ to two young women

The phone used to commit the offences had been purchased using a false name and address. Photograph: iStock

The phone used to commit the offences had been purchased using a false name and address. Photograph: iStock

 

A circuit court judge has called for tougher legislation governing the purchasing of mobile phones.

Judge Keenan Johnson made the comments as he was sentencing a man at Roscommon Circuit Court for sending “vile, disgusting, and graphic messages” to two young women, one of whom was related to him through marriage.

The man (53), who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment, and received a nine month prison sentence.

The women were aged 21 and 16 at the time the offending began and told the court the messages had a hugely negative impact on their lives.

The phone used to commit the offences had been purchased using a false name and address, the court heard.

“Cases of this nature are thankfully relatively rare, however, with the growth of mobile phone technology, the ability to commit the type of offence to which the accused has pleaded guilty has become much easier,” Judge Johnson said.

“It is noted with concern that in this particular case the accused was able to purchase a mobile phone by giving a false name and address.

“I am firmly of the view that in order to tackle this type of crime and indeed numerous other types of offences that are committed using mobile technology, the law should be changed,” he said.

At the moment, a customer does not need to provide ID to purchase a pay-as-you-go phone.

The judge said a person purchasing a phone should be obliged to provide evidence of identity, such as a passport, together with a PPS number and an up to date utility bill.

“If this is done then it would be much easier for gardaí to track phones that are used for illegal activity. It is quite extraordinary that in this day and age somebody can acquire a mobile phone which has the capacity to be used for criminal activities, without providing proof of identity,” he said.

“I believe this is an area that the authorities should look at, and legislation should be introduced making it more difficult to acquire a mobile phone.”

If such legislation was implemented it would make it much more difficult for the “accused and people like him” to harass others, he added.