Stephen Flood, 19, from Carnasaul, Kilmacrennan but now living in Gortlee, Letterkenny, bombarded members of a family in Convoy with hundreds of sickening phone calls and text messages.
During one session he sent 68 text messages over a four hour, period – some of them urging a member of the family to take their own life in the same way another family member had done 18 months earlier.
Judge Paul Kelly, who heard the case at Letterkenny District Court, said he had read victim impact statements given by members of the family and they found their ordeal to be “extremely distressing.”
“I couldn’t begin to imagine how these events must have effected all the members of this family,” said the judge.
The sickening harassment lasted for six days and six nights from November 15th to 21st 2011 when family members called in Gardaí. Flood however faced just one charge of harassment and stalking.
Sgt Jim Collins, who investigated the case, said Flood had gotten to know some family members through mutual friends.
Judge Kelly said that he had read probation reports prepared for the court and could find no remorse whatsoever from Flood.
“I’m concerned about his lack of insight into his behaviour as set out in the probation report and the lack of empathy towards this family,” said the judge.
“It must be a torment for them for it to be brought up yet again,” he said, looking at the victims at the back of Court No1 in Letterkenny.
Even Flood’s solicitor acknowledged this.
“When I try to speak to him (Flood) it is like staring into a dark pit because he won’t say anything to me; there is an emptiness when it comes to his own well-being,” said defence solicitor Patsy Gallagher
“When I try to do my best for clients I speak to them but he won’t say anything to me; his demeanour and the way he holds himself is of concern. He even has an uncaring attitude towards himself,” said Mr Gallagher.
Judge Kelly told the court: “I am very conscious of the grievance and distress caused to this family and in particular to the young members of the family….who were coming to terms with a very grievous loss.
“The defendant has expressed little in the way of insight or understanding of his impact on the victims.
“They have been very courageous with the way have come forward and in their victim impact statements which detail all too graphically the pain and suffering they have gone through.
Mr Flood, he said, should be acknowledged for having pleaded guilty to the charges.
“He has at least spared the family of having to give evidence and I am obliged to take that into consideration but I also have a detailed probation report which I must also take into account. He has no convictions prior to this incident.
“He (Flood) needs some attention from the probation service – for the sake of others in the community.”
He sentenced Flood to serve 180 hours community service in lieu of 9 months in prison.
Judge Kelly said Flood should attend for medical and/or psychiatric counselling as directed by the probation service.
Any breach of those conditions would trigger the prison sentence.
Judge Kelly concluded the case by offering his deep condolences to the family.