Woman to receive 'substantial' damages for internet slur

A sandwich seller is to pay compensation for posting the name of a business rival on a website advertising the services of prostitutes.

Maureen Walker, a mother-of-two from Castlerea, Co Roscommon, received calls from more than 100 men seeking to have sex with her.

Like Ms Walker, Francis Kenny, 40, from Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, ran a sandwich business in Castlerea.

Kenny admitted to police after his arrest last May that he had posted his business rival's details on a website advertising escorts.

Judge Carroll Moran at the circuit court hearing in Westport, said: "What the accused did to this injured party was dreadful. It caused unforgivable distress."

The court heard that Kenny had now agreed to pay compensation in excess of the £10,000 he had offered Ms Walker at a previous hearing.

In March, the court was told how Kenny placed an advertisement headed: Exclusive Maureen - a reference to Ms Walker's Exclusive Sandwiches business - on the Escort Ireland website and gave details of the services she would provide.

Ms Walker contacted the police who then called at Kenny's home. Initially, he denied any involvement, but when told that his computer was going to be seized he admitted responsibility. He was charged under the 1961 Defamation Act of 1961 in what is the first case before Irish courts involving a libel on the internet.

Kenny, who is married with two children, aged eight and 10, offered to pay £10,000 to Ms Walker in compensation, which Judge Moran then described as "totally inadequate".

Today, the judge said in accepting the renewed offer of compensation, Ms Walker, who has 17-year-old son and a daughter aged 15, had been "very fair". It had been agreed that the accused should pay an undisclosed sum to his victim, but the judge said he was at liberty to say it was a "substantial" amount.

Counsel for Kenny requested the judge apply the Probation Act, which would mean there was no conviction, though the case would lie on record. Judge Moran ordered Kenny to return to court next Friday and indicated he would sentence him as "suggested" if the amount was paid by then.

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