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Shatter told to “F**k off back to the West Bank" by disgruntled council worker

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter

A COUNCIL worker has admitted sending former Justice Minister Alan Shatter a litany of vile anti-Semitic emails.

Dublin District Court heard Mr Shatter was left distressed and did not know what would happen next after he got persistent emails calling him a “perfidious Jew” and “Yiddish whore”.

The sender was John Dillon, 55, with an address at Whitethorn Gardens, Palmerstown, Dublin, who was suffering from depression and "went over the edge"  and began to act “quit manic” after a long-term relationship ended, Judge Anthony Halpin heard.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court today to harassment of Mr Shatter from February until April 8th, 2014; the charge is under Section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act. His case was adjourned until November for a probation report on his suitability to carry out 100 hours community service in lieu of a six-month jail sentence.

Detective Ciaran O'Neill told Judge Halpin that in April 2014, the Garda Special Detective Unit, "commenced an investigation into a number of abusive and anti-Semitic emails to the then Minister of Justice".

The council worker sent 10 emails over a five-week period to Mr Shatter's email address when he was still a senior government minister. 

Shatter's statement to gardai and printouts of the offensive emails were handed in to Judge Halpin.

Det Garda O'Neill said the material he furnished gave "the level of the content of the emails that were sent".

Judge Halpin read out extracts from some of them because of the upset they caused to the former minister “the public should be given a flavour of these emails”.

The email on March 3rd, 2014 to Mr Shatter stated: “Resign you Jewish, Rathgar, circumcised prick”.

Another one on March 13th read: “perfidious Jew unable to give a breath test, fuck off back to Russia you Yiddish whore”.

The email the former minister received on April 8th last year said: “Fuck off back to the West Bank Zionist asshole”.

Dillon told investigating gardai that he was exercising his right to free speech and cited Bunreacht na hEireann and European law.

The council worker told investigators it was a "political matter" but Det Garda O'Neill told the judge, "I think his position has changed since".

He also added that when questioned, Dillon admitted the offence and was co-operative in his Garda interview and had no prior criminal convictions

Oisin Clarke BL, defending, furnished the court with reference from Dillon's workplace superior and Judge Halpin agreed it was at “polar variance” to the emails sent by Dillon.

Pleading for leniency, Mr Clarke said that in 2008 Dillon was put on medication to treat depression and he had to take six months off work.

Around the time he sent the emails a 10-year relationship had just come to an end and this was the “catalyst that put him over the edge”. It was the anniversary of his father's death.

His family noticed he was making derogatory remarks about people they knew.

Pleading for leniency he said Dillon was “going through some form of episode, in terms of his depression” but he has recovered from that and he accepts his comments to Mr Shatter were completely inappropriate.

His sister Maura Dillon gave evidence and told the judge that her brother's behaviour had been out of character and he appeared “quite manic”, was talking incessantly on his mobile phone and she confirmed he had become verbally abusive about people known to the family.

Dillon's mother asked him if he was still on his medication.

In his statement to gardai Mr Shatter said: “I got them because I am Jewish, no matter how much a hard neck you have, persistence of that nature is upsetting and distressing. I was concerned one went directly to the Taoiseach”.

“For any Jewish person to receive this is upsetting, when it is persistent and ongoing you do not know what the next step will be for this person, all this is in the back of your mind when you receive this stuff”.

Judge Halpin said Shatter was then Minister for Justice and Defence and it was to his credit that the emails “did not affect his prodigious output of work”.

He said Dillon had subjected Mr Shatter to “contemptuous ridicule and was seeking to justify it by freedom of speech”.

However, he noted that Dillon has taken responsibility for his actions, shown remorse and the Stirling references furnished to the court.

He said the man was labouring under personal mental grievances at the time and the mitigating factors persuaded the court to deal with him in a non-custodial fashion. A probation report was sought to canvas his suitability for community service.