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Man jailed for driving teen to suicide via WhatsApp

Man jailed for driving teen to suicide via WhatsApp
The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. (Reuters)

A Spanish court on Tuesday sentenced a man to 10 years behind bars for driving a teenager to commit suicide by bombarding him with hundreds of intimidating Whatsapp messages.

The incident occurred in December 2016 when the 60-year-old defendant started bombarding the teenager with messages, the Valencia region’s top court said in a statement.

“The defendant made contact with the victim, who was 17 at the time, on December 1, 2016, through Whatsapp and sent him more than 119 intimidating and threatening messages within the space of three hours,” it said.

It was not the first time they had been in contact, with the messages referring to an earlier exchange between the pair.

“The teenager repeatedly apologised and told him that he was a minor, warning that if he continued, he would kill himself,” it said.

According to a copy of the sentence seen by AFP, the defendant was “fully aware of the anguish and distress” he was causing the youngster and of the “high likelihood of his death by suicide”.

But he continued sending the messages even after the teenager threw himself from an upper floor into the inner courtyard of his home and died in the act.

The initial messages were sexual in nature and alluded to an earlier exchange between the pair.

They quickly took on an aggressive tone and even included a threat to “make public” their earlier exchange, with the defendant saying he would take legal action against him for accessing an adult website as a minor.

“I’m going to ruin your parents because you went onto an adult website,” he wrote.

The sentence, which can be appealed, also includes compensation of 173,000 euros ($171,000) for moral damages that must be paid to the teenager’s parents and brother.

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