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Council worker spared jail over vile anti-Semitic emails to Alan Shatter

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
John Dillon was ordered to do 100 hours of community service
John Dillon was ordered to do 100 hours of community service

A COUNCIL worker, who sent former Justice Minister Alan Shatter a litany of vile anti-Semitic emails, has been been sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

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

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

The council worker pleaded guilty earlier at Dublin District Court to harassment of Mr Shatter from February until April 8th, 2014.

His case had been adjourned until today when a probation report was furnished Judge Halpin who ordered Dillon to carry out 100 hours of community service work in lieu of a six-month jail sentence.

Earlier, 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".

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

Judge Halpin read out extracts from them them saying that 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

Shatter's statement to gardai and printouts of the offensive emails had been handed in to Judge Halpin to read. Det Garda O'Neill said the material he furnished gave "the level of the content of the emails that were sent".

Oisin Clarke BL, defending, had furnished the court with reference from Dillon's workplace superior and Judge Halpin had agreed it was at “polar variance” to the emails sent by Dillon. Pleading for leniency, Mr Clarke had 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 also the anniversary of his father's death.

His family noticed he was making derogatory remarks about people they knew and they pulled him up on it. Counsel said Dillon was “going through some form of episode, in terms of his depression” but he has recovered from that and he accepted 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 had said Shatter was then Minister for Justice and Defence, a most complex portfolio 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 the references furnished to the court and that Dillon has taken responsibility for his actions and shown remorse.

He had 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.