Terrifying ordeal  | 

BBC pay tribute to brave reporter after teen stalker pleads guilty to campaign of harassment

The stalker, who can't be named because of his age, used a web of social media accounts to harass and threaten journalist Aileen
BBC journalist Aileen Moynagh. Pic BBC

BBC journalist Aileen Moynagh. Pic BBC

BY Roisin Gorman

The BBC has paid tribute to the bravery of journalist Aileen Moynagh whose stalker admitted his crimes in court earlier this week.

The reporter was forced to flee her home for five days during the sustained campaign after the offender developed an 'obsessive crush' on her.

Her complaints to the PSNI and Garda Síochána eventually led officers to the home of a 17-year-old in Malahide in north Dublin who admitted he'd carried out the harassment campaign from October 2020 until February this year.

He had previously been cautioned for similar harassment of two RTE journalists.

During his appearance in Dublin's Children's Court last Wednesday it emerged that he has an unhealthy interest in female reporters and has allegedly targeted a female student in Galway.

The stalker, who can't be named because of his age, used a web of social media accounts to harass and threaten journalist Aileen, starting when he was just 16. He had up to 40 aliases and had been banned from Twitter 150 times.

In a statement following the teenager's conviction the BBC praised its reporter's handling of the terrible ordeal.

"Nobody should experience harassment or abuse because of their job," said the broadcaster.

"We regret the ordeal that Aileen has been through and pay tribute to how she has dealt with this situation and the professionalism that she has shown throughout," it added.

During the sinister campaign the teenager, who has a range of complex medical issues, sent Ms Moynagh friend requests on Facebook, as well as contacting her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Each time she blocked him he created a new profile and email address to try and contact her. He also sent messages to her at the BBC.

The young man also sent her pages of angry rants as well as messages threatening to kill himself.

When the teenager obtained a picture of Aileen's partner, he sent her a series of abusive messages asking, 'who the f*** is this' and 'how is he back on the scene'.

The campaign led Ms Moynagh to fear for her personal safety.

After previous campaigns against two RTE journalists the teenager had a breakdown and spent two months in hospital.

The detective said the boy was shocked when Ms Moynagh's detailed statement was read to him. She thought an adult was behind the terrifying campaign.

The court heard his parents had been trying to get him help since he was eight but couldn't secure health funding for his treatment. The teenager has been diagnosed with a range of medical conditions including autism, Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Tourette's Syndrome and the hair pulling disorder trichotillomania.

His solicitor apologised to the court on his client's behalf and said the teenager's guilty plea had spared Ms Moynagh having to give evidence at a trial. She did not attend the hearing.

He will appear again in court in November.

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