A Tribute to the Terminally Clueless
Tony Luckwill

What The Papers Say

Irish Times

Saturday, December 4, 1999

"Man sent defamatory letters from cyber cafe "

A man whom a jury previously took just 30 minutes to find fit to stand trial has pleaded guilty to spreading defamatory messages on the Internet from a Dublin cyber café.

Judge Elizabeth Dunne at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court imposed reporting restrictions on naming the 26-year-old west Dublin resident. She said the order was meant to protect the identity of the injured parties and would remain until the December 20th sentence hearing.

The man admitted that on December 3rd, 1997, and June 22nd, 1998, at a Cyber Cafe in South Great Georges Street, he maliciously published defamatory libels on the Internet knowing them to be false.

Mr Erwan Mill Arden SC, defending, said his client had been in custody for 19 months since the matter first came before the court.

One of the defamatory libels falsely alleged that a named person had asked up to 10 people, including the defendant, to film naked boys. "It is about time that he stopped. For God's sake somebody do something. The kids are not safe with him about," one of the messages added.

During the hearing to decide the defendant's fitness to stand trial, consultant psychiatrist Dr Art O'Connor said the man had been aware that the whole world would have access to his defamatory remarks when he published letters on the Internet.

A clinical psychologist, Dr Ivor Shortts of the Central Mental Hospital, said the defendant was of high intelligence and scored well in IQ tests. He showed great interest in the tests and obviously wanted to do well, the court heard. In the area of verbal ability the defendant scored in the high-average range, he said.

Another psychiatrist, Dr Colm McGonagle, told the jury the man was not fit to stand trial because he suffered from a rare condition called Asberger's Syndrome, which left him unable to act appropriately in social situations. Dr McGonagle said the defendant had an obsession with Land Rovers and brought up the subject in inappropriate situations.