Jeremy Vine’s stalker jailed

Image above: Alex Belfield; Youtube

Alex Belfield gets five and a half years

Alex Belfield, who was found guilty in August of stalking Jeremy Vine and three others, has been jailed for five and a half years. The former BBC radio presenter who runs his own Youtube channel harrassed his targets online.

Jeremy Vine told the court watching his Youtube videos was like “swimming in sewage” and described Belfield as “the Jimmy Saville of trolling.”

The judge said one of his victims, BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernard Spedding, came close to killing himself. Belfield had harassed him for nine years and some of Belfield’s followers had  sent him death threats.

“He was seconds away from taking his own life as a result of your conduct,” the judge, Mr Justice Saini, told Belfield.

“You made this highly successful and confident radio presenter lose all joy in life and turned him into a shell.”

When Jeremy Vine gave evidence earlier this year he said:

“I found it shocking and distressing, and it made me worried. I have in the past had a physical stalker who followed me. That is a picnic compared to this guy. It’s like an avalanche of hatred that you get hit by.”

He described how it had affected his family too. He had had to explain to his younger daughter, then 13, that he was worried one of Belfield’s 500,000 online followers could “have a knife or acid or something”.

“I saw her shrink” he said.

It was a year before she regained her confidence in leaving the family home, he added.

“She’s his victim as well, and he doesn’t even know her name.”

He told the court he had received 5,000 to 10,000 hateful tweets after the defendant’s comments.

“I was brought so low. I just thought, ‘There’s no point broadcasting if the effect is that I’ve got this.”

Belfield “weaponised the internet”

In sentencing Alex Belfield today the judge said he had “weaponised hte internet.”

“The stalking you committed was not the conventional type which is popularised in the press.”

“Your methods were, however, just as effective as a way of intimidating your victims, and were in many ways much harder to deal with.”

Belfield was found guilty of pursuing a course of conduct “that amounted to harrassment” in relation to Mr Spedding and videographer Ben Hewis. For each of these charges he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, to run consecutively.

In relation to Jeremy Vine and theatre blogger Philip Dehany, Belfield was found guilty of two lesser offences of “simple” stalking, which does not require serious alarm or distress to be proved. For each of these offences he was sentenced to 13 weeks, also to run consecutively.

Belfield had accused Mr Vine of stealing £1,000 of BBC licence payers’ money, which, the judge said, was a “wholly false” allegation. The video in which Bellfield made the claim was viewed by more than 400,000 people.

“You were not a whistleblower in any sense but developed a fixation with pursuing Mr Vine with a campaign of abuse,” the judge said.

Belfield also published Mr Vine’s address to a “mass audience”.

“Although you at no stage committed any physical acts, Mr Vine considered himself and his family to be at risk from you and his followers,” the judge said.

“He had to ask his family to watch out for you and to take care in and around their home address.”

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