suspended sentence | 

Dublin woman who sent over 2,000 menacing texts to her former teacher avoids jail

One message referenced “the great Jehovah” and claimed the victim was having homosexual relationships with members of the gardaí

Karen Sutherland


A woman who sent over 2,000 menacing phone messages to her former computer teacher has walked free from court with a suspended sentence.

Karen Sutherland (59) could give no explanation to gardaí as to why she had harassed the man and another victim, or why she had also sent abusive messages to herself in order to appear as a victim.

She was caught after gardaí traced a phone card bought with a Dunnes Stores ValueClub card.

Sutherland, with an address at Kilmore Place, Kilmore Road, Artane, Dublin 5, pleaded guilty on her trial date to two counts of harassment on dates between December 1, 2011, and July 31, 2012.

The case was delayed due a combination of disclosure issues, the pandemic and Sutherland's ill-health, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Passing sentence on Wednesday, Judge Martin Nolan said Sutherland had “for some malign purpose” decided to interfere with the victim's life, with traumatic effect.

“She certainly made his life miserable,” said Judge Nolan, adding that Sutherland had sent the messages “in a very cunning way” and had got another innocent man into trouble.

Sutherland was sentenced to three and a half years fully suspended and ordered to have no intentional contact whatsoever with the victims forever.

Garda Alan Roche told Karl Moran BL, prosecuting, that the victim began getting vitriolic phone messages from an unknown source.

Some of the messages were read out in court, including one saying: “We truly believe that you are a rapist. They will convict you. We will get your address.”

Another message threatened: “They will haunt you until you beg for death as a release. We as a family still want you dead. You're an object of ridicule and hatred.”

A further message said: “Why do you want to keep on living? No one wants you; no one cares about you, no one would miss you. Die, you worthless rapist bastard. Just die.”

Other messages referenced “the great Jehovah” and claimed the victim was having homosexual relationships with members of the gardaí.

Some of the messages purported to be from one of the victim's former pupils, and this man was arrested by gardaí and his phone examined.

While the man was being questioned, the abusive messaging continued and gardaí realised he had had nothing to do with the offence.

A garda who had given his number to three victims then began getting abusive messages himself, while Sutherland also sent abusive messages to her own phone.

Garda Roche said it was difficult to obtain the phone records as the phones involved were prepaid, but that eventually investigators used a Dunnes Stores ValueClub card to trace the accused. Sutherland had used the card to buy a phone card in Northside Shopping Centre.

She has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since the offences.

Counsel for Sutherland said she presented as a reclusive individual, that her psychology “was not as it should be” and that there seemed to be no rational motivation for the campaign of harassment she waged against the victim.

The court heard that Sutherland suffered from osteoporosis and used a walking frame.

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