A 17-year-old Irish boy has been given a postponed sentence and supervised probation after admitting to online harassment that went on for five months last year where he sent abusive and threatening messages towards the BBC reporter Aileen Moynagh.
The BBC reports that the teen has a variety of complex disorders and due to his young age, he cannot be identified. On Thursday, the Dublin boy attended the city’s Children Court where he received his sentencing.
The court had been already told of his “obsessive crush” on Belfast journalist Aileen Moynagh and had been given previous warnings and cautions for similar behaviour towards RTÈ journalists.
After the sentencing, Ms. Moynagh said: “Today marks the end of a very long and difficult journey.” She also stated that “regardless of the outcome, there are no winners.”
It is known that the offenses took place from October 2020 to February last year. The teenager is said to have used up to 40 aliases online and had his Twitter account deactivated at least 150 times.
He told the Garda in interviews that he had an obsession and compulsive interest in some female journalists.
Ms. Moynagh says she began to receive unwanted messages across her social media accounts from the then 16-year-old boy. She says she blocked him on all of her accounts however he started to make fake profiles with fake names to continue his harassment of her.
The judge went on to say how he respected and praised Ms. Moynaghs compassion and generosity throughout the trial. He also mentioned how the teen’s father had tried to get specialist help for his son for years.
Ms. Moynagh released a statement after the proceedings that said she will be left with a “lasting impact” on her life. She also added, “abuse online should be taken seriously and have consequences for perpetrators hiding behind a mobile or keyboard.”
A BBC spokesman has stated: “We want to ensure BBC staff have all the necessary support in dealing with harassment or abuse.” They added, “nobody should be harassed or abused because of their job.” In regards to the case of Ms. Moynagh, the spokesman said, “this has been a difficult time for Aileen and we pay tribute to how she has dealt with the situation, both personally and professionally.”