Au­thor of har­rass­ment let­ter to pay €1,000


The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By COURT RE­PORTER

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 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 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.

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