In­no­cent Kerry man tar­geted in on­line pae­dophile brand­ing

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS -

A NORTH Kerry man has been left shocked and deeply distressed after be­ing falsely ac­cused on an on­line vig­i­lante group’s Face­book page of se­cretly pho­tograph­ing young girls.

His pic­ture was pub­lished along­side the un­founded al­le­ga­tion on­line last week.

The pho­to­graph of the man - who has never been ac­cused or sus­pected of in­volve­ment in crime of any kind - was posted on­line on the group’s Face­book page in what one le­gal ex­pert and politi­cian has de­scribed as ‘reck­less’ be­hav­iour.

On the page a num­ber of se­ri­ous but en­tirely un­proven and un­sup­ported al­le­ga­tions were made against the man, claim­ing he had been fol­low­ing girls and filming them with his phone.

The photo ac­com­pa­ny­ing the claims was taken in a north Kerry shop as the in­no­cent and un­sus­pect­ing man went about his daily life.

The fam­ily of the man at the cen­tre of the false al­le­ga­tions say they are very wor­ried for him and that he re­mains ‘very distressed’ fol­low­ing the ap­pear­ance of his im­age on­line.

“He is very, very distressed about the whole thing. This is ab­so­lutely scan­dalous be­hav­iour.

“It is des­per­ate that peo­ple can’t be held to ac­count for post­ing some­one’s im­age with the heinous al­le­ga­tion with­out a shred of ev­i­dence,” they said.

“My brother wouldn’t hurt a fly, he has never been in trou­ble in his life.

“The sad­dest thing for us is that a cer­tain amount of peo­ple are go­ing to be­lieve this, that’s the sad re­al­ity,” the fam­ily mem­ber told The Ker­ry­man on Tues­day.

“We are try­ing to get the post taken down but it is very hard to do so.”

The man - who does not ac­tu­ally have a smart­phone or use so­cial me­dia - made a com­plaint to gar­daí after he was in­formed last week that his im­age was cir­cu­lat­ing on­line.

He showed gar­daí his phone, de­scribed as ‘an an­tique’, in the course of mak­ing his com­plaint.

Gar­daí are now in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ap­pear­ance of the al­le­ga­tion on­line.

They told The Ker­ry­man they be­lieve the vic­tim of the smear cam­paign is “en­tirely in­no­cent” of the al­le­ga­tion.

The man and his fam­ily have also com­plained the mat­ter to Face­book, on which the claims were orig­i­nally made. Gar­vey’s Su­perValu in Lis­towel also ad­dressed the is­sue on their Face­book page:

“We have been made aware in re­cent days of pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ing in so­cial me­dia ap­par­ently taken in our store in Lis­towel.

“We want to com­pletely dis­tance our­selves from this post and its con­tent re­gard­ing a val­ued cus­tomer of ours,” the com­pany said in the state­ment.

Mean­while Tralee Sinn Féin Coun­cil­lor Pa Daly has con­demned the anony­mous on­line at­tack. “We are en­ter­ing into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory when peo­ple share reck­less in­for­ma­tion with­out ev­i­dence or fact.”

It is thought that the per­son be­hind the posts on the on­line vig­i­lante group is us­ing a fake profile to share this in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion.

Cllr Daly also con­demned peo­ple who have shared the post with­out any proper ev­i­dence.

“This is ir­re­spon­si­ble and dan­ger­ous. Some in­no­cent per­son is go­ing to get assaulted or worse be­cause of a re­sult of reck­less post­ing and reck­less shar­ing.” He said he had also spo­ken with the fam­ily of the man in­volved who are “up­set” about the al­le­ga­tions made on­line.

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