A man who made online threats to an autism campaigner and her children has been sentenced to 10 months in prison with the last two suspended.
Eamonn Deegan, aged 55, with an address at Springfield Court, Celbridge, Co Kildare had appealed a 10-month sentence imposed on him in the District Court in July this year.
Mr Deegan had admitted sending messages to Fiona O’Leary, a mother of five from West Cork, via Facebook Messenger calling her a “bitch” and accusing her family of “leaching” from the State.
Cork Circuit Court also heard Mr Deegan made threats suggesting the world would be a better place if Ms O’Leary and her children “were not in it.” Ms O’Leary fought back tears as she read a statement to the court.
She said she lived in fear for her safety since Mr Deegan was released on bail. She said four of her children were autistic and one has been diagnosed with cancer. She asked Judge Helen Boyle: “I beg you to reconsider and give this man a jail sentence.”
State solicitor Jer Healy told the court Mr Deegan was convicted of harassment in the District Court in July 2022, but appealed his 10 month sentence. He was released on bail but breached the conditions in August this year.
Mr Healy said Mr Deegan was bound not to engage in abusive online behaviour with anybody but abused another woman on Facebook whose child had recently taken their own life. The woman was known to Ms O’Leary and informed her, and Mr Deegan was subsequently arrested in Kildare and brought before the District Court in Bandon, Cork on the same day.
He was remanded in custody with a slight delay because of a Covid outbreak until September 16 where he was bailed once again.
Giving evidence, Inspector Debra Marsh from Clonakilty Garda Station said Mr Deegan had 13 previous convictions including for the possession of knives, one for unlawful possession of firearms, and for drugs offences.
Barrister Lorna Brooks representing Mr Deegan said he had previously been homeless and had drug issues, but was now living a “strict” life style and did not even drink coffee.
She said he was living in Dublin and hoping to enter education next year. She said Mr Deegan was embarrassed by the online comments and “would not be getting involved” in politics any more.
Judge Helen Boyle said Mr Deegan didn’t appear to have learned his lesson as he had breached his bail conditions. She re-affirmed the 10 month prison sentence but suspended the last two months.
She also bound him to keep the peace for two years and added further conditions that he would not contact Fiona O’Leary or any member of her family directly or indirectly by any means for a period of five years.
She also ordered that he would not set up any anonymous online account for that purpose and ordered that he would not come within 200 metres of Ms O’Leary at her home or place of work.