Man avoids jail for ‘vile’ internet messages about ex-girlfriend

Childcare worker says ex-boyfriend ruined her life by posting sexual messages

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 been given a four-year suspended sentence.

Paul Monaghan (34) from Cartron, Kilrooskey, Co Roscommon, was warned he would do jail time if he stepped out of line again.

A childcare worked told a previous sitting of 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 name and address were posted on the website and friends began to shun her. The 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 had no contact with Monaghan since she broke off the relationship 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 on the website and had no reason to suspect Monaghan. She was shocked to discover it was him.

The website items suggested she was inviting men to get in touch with her for sex.

Not reckless
The victim told Judge Tony Hunt she would not accept it was a reckless action by Monaghan: it had gone on for eight months and was designed to cause 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.

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

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

'Character assassination'
The judge said 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 John – a serving garda in Dublin – gave character witness evidence. Monaghan had no previous convictions.

He 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.”