Author of harrassment letter to pay €1,000
TARBERT MAN TELLS COURT HE WAS FORCED TO MOVE BACK TO US OVER CAMPAIGN OF INTIMIDATION AGAINST HIM
A TARBERT businessman told a court that he was forced to move back to the United States where he had previously lived due to what he claimed was a campaign of harrassment against him by some in the local community.
The claims came at the trial of a man who pleaded guilty to sending the businessman an offensive letter.
Alec Langan, Tarbert Island, Tarbert, appeared before Judge James O’Connor at Listowel District Court on Thursday prosecuted with sending businessman Mike McElligott ‘ by post a grossly offensive letter’ to Mr McElligott’s address at The Nest, Church Street, Tarbert, contrary to section 55 of the Communications (Postal Services) Act 2011 on March 15, 2016.
Mr McElligott also claimed that the letter was part of an ‘orchestrated campaign’, ultimately successful, to force him out of the village.
The exact content of the letter was not read out in court, but Mr McElligott said such was the content he and his family considered it a ‘ hate letter’ and said it had been very damaging to him, his wife, children and family.
Solicitor for the defence Helen Lucey said that her 75-year-old client had no idea ‘ how’ he wrote the letter: “He really cannot understand how he did what he did... a rush of blood to the head.. to this day he cannot understand how he could do this.”
The court heard the letter was against the background of a civil dispute Mr McElligott was involved in with the Tarbert GAA Club - subject of a forthcoming Circuit Court case.
While Mr Langan is not a member of the Tarbert GAA, he is closely related to two prominent officers. Ms Lucey said her client ‘suspected’ his actions were in response to a situation that arose during New Year’s Eve celebrations at the GAA grounds of which Mr Langan had been ‘involved’ with for 16 years. ‘Someone’ wrote a letter of complaint to gardaí over the annual New Year’s fireworks display. “My client was very upset, he thought it spelled an end to the fireworks.”
After the letter he wrote Mr McElligott was complained to gardaí Mr Langan was identified as a suspect and although he initially denied writing it, he contacted investigating gardaí the following day to admit his culpability, making full admission. Mr Langan told gardaí he was ‘sorry’ for the letter.
On preparing his defence it was revealed to Ms Lucey and her client that Mr Langan’s letter was one of a number of similar articles, she told the Court. “We got documents suggesting that Mr McElligott seems to have quite a few enemies... there was also a poem among the documents which I’m going to hand in... my client is not responsible for the poem or cartoon.. but they are indicators of the general attitude in the community to Mr McElligott,” she claimed.
When Judge O’Connor remarked that it was a long poem, Ms Lucey replied: “But it’s very well written in one way Judge.” Mr McElligott told the court that what Ms Lucey had told the court was only ‘partially true’.
“The wording of the letter was ‘we are going to hound you out’. They certainly went about that. They (unnamed) went to the school where I was working, there was a real orchestrated effort to prevent me from doing business in Tarbert and, to be honest, after spending nine years home we decided we did not want to put up with the harrassment. I decided to relocate back to New York... The dispute (with the GAA) should have been left as a civil dispute but a small number of gentlement, including Alec Langan, took it upon themselves to have their own street court... he never once offered us an apology but instead in local shops made fun of me and of my sister.”
Mr Langan was directed to pay €1,000 to the Court Poor Box by May 17 next.