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Woman who waged campaign of harassment against former Sinn Fein TD challenging jail sentence

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Sonya Egan (42) is appealing the three-year prison sentence handed to her for harrassment. (Stock image)

Sonya Egan (42) is appealing the three-year prison sentence handed to her for harrassment. (Stock image)

Sonya Egan (42) is appealing the three-year prison sentence handed to her for harrassment. (Stock image)

A mother of three jailed for two years after she waged a terrifying campaign of harassment against a former Sinn Fein TD and a Cork community activist is now challenging her sentence.

Sonya Egan (42) falsely claimed to be the daughter of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and her relentless campaign of harassment was such that a judge noted it had caused "torment" for her two victims.

She told former Cork TD Jonathan O'Brien she loved him - and, having later made serious bullying accusations against the Cork politician, then promised him she would drop all the claims "if he gave in to her feelings for him."

Egan then waged an alarming campaign of harassment against Mr O'Brien (50) and Cork community activist Laura O'Connell for over a year, levelling false and hurtful allegations against them.

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Former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo

Former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo

Former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien. Photo: Michael O'Sullivan/OSM Photo

Judge Helen Boyle noted at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month the campaign of harassment went on for over a year, it was sustained, targeted not just the two victims but their families including parents and children, involved multiple routes of harassment including online platforms and had serious financial consequences for the victims.

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Judge Boyle noted that Ms O'Connell said Egan's relentless campaign of harassment had effectively ruined her life.

"It is so serious it merits a prison sentence," she said.

Judge Boyle imposed a three year prison sentence but agreed to suspend the final 12 months in light of her plea and public apology.

However, the Irish Independent has learned that Egan is now appealing the severity of the sentence imposed.

Papers in respect of her appeal were lodged within 24 hours of her receiving a prison sentence.

The appeal is not expected to be heard before 2023.

Ms O'Connell said she was aware of the appeal.

"It is disappointing but I am not surprised. It is disappointing because the victims in this case are still not being allowed to get on with their lives."

Judge Boyle said a psychological report outlined that Egan had been raised in State care and had suffered multiple forms of abuse over her childhood.

It assessed her as being at a low risk of reoffending.

She had also submitted a letter of apology to the court for her actions.

Judge Boyle said that Egan "noted the upset, anguish and torment she inflicted on the victims."

"She said she genuinely did not realise the extent of her behaviour. She said she is truly sorry."

The judge said that Egan had a traumatic childhood but said it was "perplexing" that there was no precise conclusion in the psychological report.

Ms O'Connell, who had fought back tears in delivering an emotional victim impact statement at a previous court hearing, said Sonya Egan had ruined her life, left her living in fear and had rendered her financially crippled.

The victim said she was so "torn apart" by Egan's actions she was now considering leaving Ireland.

The impact of the false claims were aggravated by various conspiracy groups taking Egan's side.

When Gardai seized Egan's phone, she was found to have made 5,500 calls, texts and social media messages to the Sinn Fein TD over a six month period.

Egan also had 16 active Facebook accounts on her phone - including accounts in which she was falsely linked to Jeremy Corbyn and a relative of one of the Birmingham Six.

The woman at various times claimed to be a barrister and an investigative reporter.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of harassment against Mr O'Brien and Ms O'Connell.

Egan of The Lawn, Lios Cara, Killeens, Co Cork pleaded guilty to two charges which were brought contrary to Sections 10 (1) and (6) of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997.

She admitted harassment of Mr O'Brien on a variety of dates between January 17 2018 and January 9 2019.

Egan also admitted harassment of Laura O'Connell on various dates between April 8 2018 and June 26 2019.

However, Sergeant John Sheehy told the court that Egan had alleged to people she had only pleaded to protect someone else - and had contacted several journalists asking if they would tell her story.

Sgt Sheehy said Mr O'Brien became aware of the defendant in April/May 2017 when she made a protected disclosure claiming "a conspiracy to cover up her abuse by members of an Gardai."

Mr O'Brien - in his role as a TD - offered her advice and moral support.

However, he later became "uneasy" when Egan began to make suggestive remarks to him.

She had also joined Sinn Fein in Cork.

Egan told him her real father was former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and, later, that she had feelings for the Sinn Fein TD.

Mr O'Brien immediately distanced himself from Egan at which point she began to make bullying allegations against him and Ms O'Connell.

She accused him of having betrayed her trust and falsely said she had lost a baby because of the bullying.

"On a number of occasions she claimed that he had driven her to suicide and that she was going to carry it out."

"While all this was going on, she would email him to tell him that she loves him and that she would drop all the claims against him if he gave into his feelings for her."

Later, Egan would send the politician messages accusing him of being with "a tart" because an unknown vehicle was outside his home.

The Sinn Fein TD was appalled when, in a message, Egan referred to his terminally ill mother.

"Sonya became aware that his terminally ill mother had fallen out of the bed in the hospital and claims that a friend in the hospital had told her.

"The hospital staff confirmed that his mother had fallen out of bed but it has not been established how she got this information."

Mr O'Brien eventually notified the Gardai - and revealed there were occasions when he would receive 100 text messages daily from Egan or from social media accounts believed to be operated by her.

On one occasion, Egan turned up at Leinster House while the Dail was sitting and demanded to speak to the Sinn Fein TD.

On another occasion, she falsely posted on social media that she was pregnant and lost her baby due to the bullying of Mr O'Brien and Sinn Fein.

Egan also approached Mr O'Brien's daughter at her place of work asking questions about him.

After Mr O'Brien referred the matter to the Gardai, she called him "a rat."

"She sent him pictures of a rat and publicly posted (on social media) that: 'You don't rat on a Republican'."

A written victim impact statement by Mr O'Brien was submitted to Judge Boyle but was not read out in open court.

Ms O'Connell, who read out her own victim impact statement to the court, said her life was in ruins because of the actions of Egan.

"She is a menace to society and one that I was and am not being protected from," Ms O'Connell said.

"Since that day (she met Egan) my life has never been the same. She has mentally broken me, set me back in my health and impoverished me to the point where I now have to engage with the insolvency services."

Ms O'Connell said she was left facing a €26,000 legal bill because of injunctions she had to secure just to protect herself from Egan.

"Sonya Egan has made every attempt to destroy my good reputation, my hard work efforts, my health including my mental health."

She said it was very hurtful to realise her son was having to watch "his mother being torn apart."

"I live in fear. I am stressed. I am overwhelmed. Sonya Egan has ruined my life. Sonya has targeted and victimised several others, broken several others and will not stop."

"I flinch with every outside noise, panic at the sound of a doorbell in fear (that) it is her or those who follow her. I cannot go anywhere without having to assess who is following me or watching me."

In one horrifying incident, a person known to Sonya Egan posed as a

social worker and gained access to Ms O'Connell's home.

Ms O'Connell begged the courts to protect her and end Sonya Egan's

campaign against her and other innocent people.


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