COURTS

Former trainee priest jailed for “horrendous”  harassment of Donegal couple

Democrat Reporter

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Former trainee priest jailed for “horrendous”  harrassment of Donegal couple

41-year-old Tryphon Mabanz Mbumba was jailed for six months

A former trainee Catholic priest was jailed for six months after a “horrendous” campaign of harassment on social media, letter and email against a Donegal town couple that lasted for three to four years, a court heard.

In jailing 41-year-old Tryphon Mabanz Mbumba, Old Clare Street, Limerick, at Donegal District Court, Judge Kevin Kilrane said he was a “hypocrite who wrapped himself in religion” as evidenced by his letters of apology that were read out in court.

The defendant offered a copy of Pope Francis’s book “The Joys of Love” to the injured parties Alan Appolinaire Happi and his wife Isabella as part of that apology,

The defendant pleaded guilty to harassing Isobella Happi on a date between November 1st, 2012, and September  30th, 2013, at 43 Mill Race, Crescent Donegal town.

He also pleaded guilty to a similar charge against Alan Appolinaire Happi on dates between July 1 2014 and November 30 2015.

The court heard the defendant set up a fake Facebook account and accused Donegal town taxi man and underage soccer coach Alan Happi of having affairs, being involved in terrorism in Northern Ireland and being a child rapist.

Tryphon contacted Alan Happi’s wife Isabella’s Facebook account telling her: “Be careful of Alan, he has two children in France and was having an affair.” 

Both Alan and Isobella said the false accusations had almost ended their marriage.

The court was told these postings were sent for a number of years, but gardaí could only confirm dates between November 2012 and September 13th in respect of Isabella Happi.

And they confirmed Facebook posts to Alan Happi, were confirmed as being between 2014 and November 2015.

The defendant also sent emails to 20 to 30 businesses in Donegal making serious allegations against the taxi driver, the court was told.

The emails told the businesses to be very careful of the taxi driver, and claimed he had been involved in terrorism in Northern Ireland and was a child rapist.

An accompanying photo of Alan Happy was sent with the e mail.

An emotional Mr Happi, who coaches underage soccer teams in Donegal Town told the court that he had been accosted on the street as a result of the e mails sent to local businesses.

Offensive messages

He said the defendant had been sending the highly offensive messages at the same time that he had visited Mr Happi’s family home in Donegal Town, before going to Limerick.

The court heard that eight of the businesses had sent in complaints against the nature of the emails.

The court was told the defendant and his victim had once lived in the same hostel where Mr Appi was head chef.

In sentencing the defendant, Judge Kevin Kilrane said he wanted the people of Donegal to know that there was “not a shred of evidence that the allegations before the court are remotely true”.

“I want the people of Donegal to know that they are respectable and hard working people”.

The judge complimented Mr Happi on the “dignified and sensible way he had dealt with the allegations and let the law take its course.

Judge Kilrane said the defendant was a Congolese national who had come to Ireland as a refugee where he met the victim who was from Cameroon.


“Vicious harassment”

He had been originally friendly with the couple and had often been in their home.

But, the defendant had launched a campaign of the most “vicious harassment of his two victims in the most appalling manner”.

And while the judge was not saying the defendant was an evil person his “acts were evil in the worst possible way”.

Judge Kilrane said the defendant said in a letter of apology that he did not intend to upset Isobella Happi but she was “absolutely tormented”.

And the defendant made his baseless allegations behind the cloak of anonymity.

The defendant accused Alan Appi of “everything short of murder”, the judge added.

Judge Kilrane said the defendant was suggesting that there had been a dispute between the parties, but the victim strongly denied this account.

Judge Kilrane said the defendant had a “good Catholic upbringing”.


Studied for priesthood

He had studied for the priesthood for several years but his “vocation wavered”.

The judge said he had read the defendant’s apology and it said he was sorry for any harm he “may have done and any unintentional damage that I may have caused”.

But the defendant had written to many people making horrendous allegations against his victim yet maintained in a letter written yesterday that it was “unintentional”.

“He seeks to wrap himself up in religion. He is a complete and utter hypocrite”.

The judge said the defendant’s vindictiveness went “beyond explanation”.

“This man must go to jail for six months”, the judge added.

Recognisances for circuit court appeal were set at an independent surety of €3000 with €1000 cash to be lodged.