An Ashley man who subjected his former partner to a campaign of ‘ruthless and cruel mental torment’ including falsely reporting she had been involved in a shooting which led to armed police raiding her home, has been jailed for two years.
Forty-six-year-old Steven Webb, of Newmarket Road, had sparked the operation in Ousden by making an anonymous 999 call from a phone box at The Green in Ashley in September 2015.
Ipswich Crown Court heard that Victoria Hardiman confirmed to police that the voice making the call was Webb’s, but less than three months later another anonymous report was made to Crimestoppers that Ms Hardiman had stabbed her ex-boyfriend and 12 days later another anonymous 999 call reported that there was a dead body in a silver car parked on the driveway of a property in Ousden.
Police attended and found nothing wrong but later the same caller contacted police to say they had been too slow in arriving and the body, claimed to be that of Ms Hardiman’s ex-boyfriend, had been moved and buried.
Again, Ms Hardiman was able to identify Webb’s voice from the 999 call and that was backed up by a forensic speech analyst.
The final of the four offences to which Webb pleaded guilty was in May last year when he set up a fake Facebook profile in Ms Hardiman’s name and used it to post bogus messages referring to him. In one message Webb – claiming to be Ms Hardiman – wrote: “Lucky I haven’t had you killed. I always get what I want.”
The court heard the first Ms Hardiman knew about the fake profile was when she was contacted by police after Webb reported the comments to them.
Experts were able to trace the source of the fake profile back to Webb who was arrested but declined to answer any questions.
Prior to the four offences for which Webb was sentenced on Tuesday, he had been issued with a formal warning by police to stop sending letters and messages to Ms Hardiman who in her victim impact statement, said Webb had subjected her to ‘ruthless and cruel mental torment’ which had affected many areas of her life.
Judge Goodin also granted a restraining order prohibiting Webb from making any contact with Ms Hardiman.
Appearing for Webb, Archie McKay said his client accepted that his conduct had amounted to a campaign but all the hoax allegations had been destined to fail.