A Galway woman, who took issue with a social medial influencer for endorsing a company and a product on two separate occasions, has been ordered to pay €5,000 in compensation to her victim.
The influencer is one who promotes and endorses goods and services on social media to his large online following.
Caroline Toher (46) from Ballanalty, Ower, Headford, was convicted at Tuam District Court of harassing influencer Kieran Corrigan, who is from Co Offaly and is said to have “taken social media by storm”.
The court heard that the defendant rang up two businesses and became aggressive and verbally abusive after they used Kieran Corrigan to endorse their businesses and products.
Mr Corrigan said that it had caused him and his family so much stress and he would never understand how somebody he doesn’t know took it upon themselves to destroy both his family and reputation.
Evidence was given by Garda Ann Marie McDonald of Killity Garda Station in County Offaly that on August 10, 2020 the defendant called Denise Douet on WhatsApp and became “most aggressive, angry and abusive” to her on the phone.
She castigated her for using the social media influencer Mr Corrigan to promote the wine company she worked for and accused her of being an alcoholic.
The defendant accused her of promoting men dressing in women’s clothing – and in the same call, she claimed Mr Corrigan was a domestic abuser.
On a separate occasion on March 18, 2021, Toher was alleged to have made four calls to a Mullingar-based opticians and castigated a receptionist for using Mr Corrigan.
Again, the defendant alleged that Mr Corrigan was a domestic abuser and asked if the Mullingar opticians could condone using him.
Garda McDonald said that the proprietor of the opticians was also extremely upset by what had happened and stopped using influencers as a result.
The court heard Mr Corrigan and his wife, who were both present in Tuam Court, were left traumatised by the false allegations and believe that he lost a lot of business as a result.
Defending solicitor Michael McDarby said that his client had been employed by the HSE and was organising Covid tests for the public at the time. He said that she had no back-up and was very stressed as a result.
However, Judge James Faughnan intervened and remarked: “This was your client’s own making, and you cannot lay the blame on the HSE.”
Mr McDarby clarified that he was not using the HSE as an excuse as his client took full responsibility.
Judge Faughnan said that the defendant’s allegations had “a devastating effect” on Mr Corrigan’s life.
“A few clicks of a button is beyond repair,” he said as he ordered her to pay €5,000 in compensation to the victim.
He adjourned the matter to July to allow the sum to be paid.
(Photo: Judge James Faughnan)
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