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Man who sent teenage girl hundreds of sexually explicit messages online is jailed

Eoin Hickey (23) of Moyne Road, Ranelagh, Dublin told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he was unable to stop his behaviour

Sunday World

A young man who engaged in the “prolonged, persistent and serious” harassment of a teenage girl by sending her hundreds of sexually explicit messages has been jailed for 16 months.

Lawyers for Eoin Hickey (23) of Moyne Road, Ranelagh, Dublin told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he was unable to stop his behaviour even after gardaí warned him as a result of his poor cognitive abilities.

The victim, now aged 20, told the court in a victim impact statement that Hickey had stalked her relentlessly online, setting up hundreds of fake online accounts to contact her to get around online safety measures.

She said she feared her stalker was someone from her school and she became afraid of going to school and of going out. The court heard that Hickey sent the woman videos showing a male masturbating, and messages stating “suck my dick” and “give us a wank”.

She was aged 15 to 18 at the time of the harassment from November 2017 to July 2020, while Hickey was aged 18 to 21. The woman did not know him and Hickey, who chose her randomly, never attempted to arrange to meet, the court heard.

The woman said she was in a constant state of terror and she continues to have extreme trust issues with men.

“This man has stalked me in the most depraved manner. He always found a way of contacting me. I felt completely violated,” she said in a statement read out in court by prosecuting counsel, Fiona McGowan BL.

Phillip Rahn SC, defending, told Judge Martin Nolan that at the age of 14 Hickey was diagnosed with developmental disorders, inclding autism spectrum disorder. A 2018 assessment of his emotional maturity and life skills found Hickey's ability to self regulate and inhibit behaviour when necessary was extremely low.

Counsel said Hickey's culpability was lowered by his lack of ability to stop himself. He said that his client has since put support structures in place to prevent him reoffending.

Hickey pleaded guilty to harassment on dates between November 2017 and July 2020.

Sentencing him today/yesterday (FRIDAY), Judge Nolan said the harassment carried out by Hickey was “prolonged, persistent and serious and had a serious effect” on the young woman.

He said Hickey failed to stop harassing the teenager even after he was approached by gardaí and warned to stop.

Judge Nolan accepted that Hickey has his own challenges, but he said he believed Hickey must have known “to some degree” that what he was doing was having an effect on the injured party. He said that if Hickey had stopped when warned by gardaí then things might have turned out differently.

“This is a serious case and it's a sad case,” Judge Nolan said. “A young lady's life has been interfered with and it's a sad case where a judge has to impose what could be seen as a harsh sentence on a person with challenges.”

He handed down a sentence of three years and suspended the final 20 months on a number of conditions, including that Hickey have no further contact whatsoever with the young woman.

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