Posting the identities of the two boys convicted of murdering a 14-year-old girl on Facebook resulted in a Cork man being ordered to do 150 hours of community service instead of four months in jail.
Judge Olann Kelleher said at Cork District Court that he did not propose to recite the seriousness of the offence as everybody knew what a serious matter it was to identify the teenagers in contravention of a court order.
Sergeant Eamonn O’Neill and a colleague travelled from Tallaght garda station to the home of 36-year-old Jason Forde of 122 Glenamoy Lawn, Cork, to investigate the matter in June 2019.
Sgt. O’Neill said that in fairness to the defendant he was extremely cooperative and extremely remorseful from the moment the gardaí arrived at his home.
“I don’t think he understood the seriousness of what he had done,” Sgt. O’Neill said.
It was further stated in support of the defendant that he had taken steps to rectify the matter even before the gardaí arrived at his door. Some friends had contacted him to say that he probably should not be identifying the two young teenagers convicted of murdering the girl, and he removed the post from his Facebook page when they alerted him.
Diarmuid Kelleher defence solicitor said the accused did not generate the posting on his Facebook page but has re-posted one generated by someone else.
While Mr Kelleher represented the defendant in court yesterday he said that Jason Forde told gardaí who arrived at his home that he would talk to them immediately that day without the benefit of a solicitor. Sergeant O’Neill confirmed this was so and he added that the defendant accepted he had done something wrong.
Mr Kelleher said the defendant did not know what he was doing in terms of committing a criminal offence but accepted that ignorance of the law was no defence.
Sgt. O’Neill said the two convicted teenagers were never publicly named throughout their trial. In Jason Forde’s Facebook post there were two school photos and each boy was identified with a circle around his face.
The charges to which Jason Forde pleaded guilty stated that on June 19 2019 within the state he published on his Facebook account a picture of the first boy, a child in proceedings before the Central Criminal Court in contravention of the Children’s Act 2001. The second charge referred to the first boy’s co-accused.
Sgt. O’Neill said Forde previously had only had a small number of minor public order convictions for which he received fines and had not been in any kind of difficulty for ten years.
Judge Kelleher said that in all the circumstances and in light of the very fair evidence given by the prosecuting sergeant, the defendant could do 150 hours of community service instead of four months in prison.
The judge noted the work skills of the accused and said he could give something back to society.
It is understood this was one of 13 similar prosecutions before the courts around the country and that further prosecutions may be brought.
As a result of a recent court ruling in relation to the Children’s Act, the name of the victim of the murder is not given in this report.