Woman who bombarded teacher with thousands of abusive texts says ‘I don’t know why I did it’

Karen Sutherland labelling her innocent computer teacher a ‘worthless rapist bastard’, urging him to ‘just die’

Karen Sutherland

Sutherland bought phone credit at Northside Shopping Centre

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

A 59-year-old woman who bombarded an innocent computer teacher with 2,000 anonymous texts labelling him a ‘worthless rapist bastard’ and urging him to ‘just die’ has told the Sunday World: “I don’t know why I did it.”

Speaking for the first time, since she was given a three and a half year suspended sentence for harassment on Wednesday, Karen Sutherland broke down as she struggled to explain her actions.

Asked if she was sorry, she replied: “Yes, I am. I’m absolutely devastated. I really am.

“It’s the worst thing I have ever done.”

But when asked to explain why she targeted her former computer teacher, she said she couldn’t.

“I don’t know why it happened,” she said.

“That’s the whole point.

“I just don’t know why I did this to someone who was so good to me.

“I don’t know what else I can say.”

Asked whether she would now like to publicly apologise to her victim, Sutherland responded: “I’ve written a letter of apology to him.

“But I should never have let this happen.

“I’m getting counselling now.

“I am so so sorry.”

Sutherland bought phone credit at Northside Shopping Centre

Details of the sickening campaign of harassment an out-of-control Sutherland inflicted on her teacher, how an innocent man was blamed for it, and how she was undone after using a Dunnes Stores Loyalty card when purchasing phone credit for her ‘burner’ phone emerged at Dublin Circuit Court this week.

Sutherland, from 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.

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.

Gda 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.

Passing sentence, Judge Martin Nolan said Suth­erland had “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.

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