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Man who bombarded colleague with threatening, pornographic and racist emails avoids jail

Zohaib Ahmed has been ordered to leave the country within a month

Zohaib Ahmed, 36yrs, of no fixed abode, pictured at the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) on Parkgate Street in Dublin for a harassment sentence hearing. Pic: Paddy Cummins/IrishPhotoDesk.ie

Claire Henry and Jessica Magee

A man who bombarded his work colleague with over 150 threatening, pornographic and racist emails has been given a suspended sentence and ordered to leave the country within a month.

Zohaib Ahmed (36), of no fixed address, was sentenced to two years in prison fully suspended after he pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment towards his colleague and an investigating garda between 3 and 25 February, 2020.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Judge Martin Nolan warned Ahmed not to contact either of the complainants for 30 years.

“It goes without saying, this was disgraceful behaviour,” said Judge Nolan, ordering Ahmed to be of good behaviour for three years.

The judge said Ahmed had sent very distressing images but that he was not going to impose an immediate custodial sentence because the accused had pleaded guilty and said he was remorseful.

He ordered Ahmed, who is originally from Pakistan but has been living in Ireland for several years, to leave the jurisdiction within one month.

At a previous hearing, the court heard that both Ahmed and the complainant worked at a security company. The harassment began after the complainant sent a routine generic email, reminding staff to clock in and clock out from breaks using a smartphone app.

The employee then left her desk for some time and when she returned, she had five emails which contained pornographic and racist content.

The employee informed her employer and the IT department blocked the email address and terminated Ahmed's employment immediately.

Garda Peter Guinan told Diane Stuart, BL, prosecuting, that between February 3-6, Ahmed sent the woman over 120 emails. On February 6, she received a phone call to her work phone from Ahmed, who called her an "Irish whore” and made comments about her mother.

The court heard that a further 56 emails were sent to the woman with the subject line of one email saying, "Where are you hiding?"

Garda Sergeant David O'Leary was the investigating garda on the case and contacted Ahmed using the email address that had sent the explicit emails from. Sgt O'Leary himself then received 52 emails which contained threats and pornographic content.

The court heard that Ahmed left Ireland and returned to Pakistan, where his father was living. He contacted Stg O'Leary at a later date and told him he planned to return to Ireland.

When he returned, he was arrested and pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment towards the HR employee and Stg O’Leary.

Mr Luigi Rea, BL, defending, said his client accepted what he did was wrong and had not come to the attention of the gardaí since this incident.

Gda Guinan said Ahmed has no previous convictions in Ireland or abroad, which Interpol has confirmed.

Mr Rea said his client brought two letters of apology to court for both the HR employee and Sgt O'Leary.

A victim impact statement was read in person by the employee, in which she wrote, "this individual has made my life a living hell".

“I received one hundred and fifty plus emails which included threats against both my mother and me and sexual, racist and pornographic content all for sending a generic email to staff".

The woman said she no longer feels safe in social situations and will only socialise with a small number of people.

Judge Nolan said that it seems “for reasons only known to the defendant, he engaged in vile communications which were intended to frighten and intimate this woman”.

“From hearing the victim impact statement, it is clear it has had a significant effect on this woman,” he added.

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