Midwest Radio

Suspended sentence for Dublin man who threatened to kill former Galway Senator

An internet troll who told a Labour senator that he would fill her "rat's mouth with lead" has claimed his crimes weren't that serious.

The Irish Independent reports that 28-year old Stephen French was spared jail after he pleaded guilty to threatening to kill former Galway-based Senator Lorraine Higgins in a series of online messages.

A court was told that Ms Higgins was left "scared stiff" and in a position where she "rarely left the confines of Leinster House" while in Dublin.

Judge Anthony Halpin gave Mr French a suspended six-month sentence, saying the courts had to send out the message that public representatives had the support of society and to warn people not to send them abusive comments.

Stephen French, from John McCormack Avenue, Walkinstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty to three counts of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Ms Higgins, and two of harassing her.

The offences happened between July 16 and August 21, 2015.

The accused had entered his plea previously and the case came before Judge Halpin for sentence at Dublin District Court yesterday.

In her victim impact statement, Lorraine Higgins said that, following the threats, she temporarily removed her social media accounts, deliberated about what she was saying publicly and in debates, and permanently disabled email and social media notifications to her mobile phone. She also "seriously considered not contesting the 2016 General Election".

At that point, she said she reaslied she was paying a rather large price to be a public representative.

Judge Halpin said the offence required a sentence but noted the accused had no previous convictions and suspended it for two years.

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