Furious mother’s rant on Limerick teacher’s Facebook page

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

The woman sent voice messages to the teacher’s Facebook page

The woman sent voice messages to the teacher’s Facebook page

THE mother of a young boy who sent threatening and abusive messages to his teacher via social media was found not guilty of criminal wrong-doing after a judge ruled her actions did not amount to harassment.

The woman, aged in her forties, was prosecuted in relation to an incident which happened just over two years ago.

The male teacher told Limerick District Court he was “completely shocked” when he listened to two separate voice recordings which were sent to his private Facebook account by the woman.

The complainant told Inspector Alan Cullen he was alerted to the messages around an hour after school had finished for the day and that he listened to them a short time later.

“I was scared and baffled,” he said adding the messages were “quite abusive and threatening” and that the matter played on his mind for some time afterwards.

In the voice messages, which were played in court, the woman can be heard complaining about an incident involving her son which had happened earlier in the day. “I’m not best pleased with you at all,” she said accusing the teacher of handling the matter “very badly”.

She later calls the teacher a bully and say his actions in the classroom “will not be accepted by me”.

The woman goes on to state that her opinion of the teacher is “absolutely gone” and she asks if he has a death wish?

The teacher said he informed the school principal about the messages later that evening and that she contacted gardai about the matter.

Judge Marian O’Leary refused an application to allow details of comments which were posted on a separate Facebook page to be admitted as evidence after ruling they were not relevant to the charge before the court.

Gardai Niamh Keogh told the court the defendant made certain admissions when she was interviewed a number of days later.

She told gardai she had sent the voice messages after her son informed her that he had been shouted at by his teacher in class earlier in the day.

The boy, who has special needs, also told his mother that he had been isolated and ordered to pack his bags by the teacher.

“I was furious,” she told gardai before later stating that her actions were out of character.

She also accepted it was inappropriate for her to have sent messages to the teacher’s private Facebook account.

When the mother’s claims were put to the teacher, he denied he had shouted at the young boy and said he had asked the whole class to pack their bags ahead of a scheduled music class.

In her evidence, the woman accepted her actions were an invasion of the teacher’s privacy but insisted that he has no reason to be afraid of her.

Seeking to have the case dismissed, solicitor Darach McCarthy submitted his client actions did not amount to harrassment as defined in law.

He said the teacher had listened to the voice messages at the same time and that there was “no lapse in time” and that the actions of his client were “not ongoing.”

Judge O’Leary agreed and dismissed the charge.

“What she did was very very inappropriate, it was dreadful. However I do not consider it was persistent conduct within the meaning of the act,” she said.