TWO women have been convicted of harassment after putting up posters in Royal Wootton Bassett containing a series of derogatory assertions about a retired teacher.
Jacqueline McQuade, 54, and Christine Lynch, 62, made signs featuring a picture of Christopher Mock and messages including “cheat” and “peek a boo, caught you.”
Mr Mock’s life changed as a result of the malicious posters and he began waking up in the night in panic and feeling he was being watched as he walked in the town, the court heard.
He had been in a relationship with McQuade, a teaching assistant, in 2003 after they met at the school where they both worked but they split up and he married another woman last September.
At Swindon Magistrates’ Court yesterday both women admitted harassment.
Prosecutor Pauline Lambert told the court Mr Mock began to receive abusive texts from Lynch’s phone while on honeymoon and had changed his number, but the women then put up posters.
Mrs Lambert said: “On a few occasions posters with Mr Mock’s photograph and abusive and insulting words were displayed around Royal Wootton Bassett. “On the 15th of February police received a call from a male witness working there who saw a vehicle pull up and two women put posters round Royal Wootton Bassett with a photo of a man with insulting words.”
The car’s registration was traced to McQuade, who had driven from her home in Camden, North London, with pensioner Lynch, from nearby Kentish Town.
The messages also read “How does it feel to be haunted by us”, and “watch out there’s a rat about.”
Mr Mock described in a victim statement how the posters had changed his life.
He said: “Since this situation developed a number of physical emotions have disturbed my daily living conditions. Sleeping has become a problem, waking up with feelings of panic, dread and feelings of confusion. Eating is not something easily enjoyed at present.”
Mr Mock also told of feeling he is being watched while walking in the town.
He said: “People in the town have been very supportive with the posters defaming my character and potentially turning me into a monster. “They made me nervous and I became introverted and slightly reclusive. It is a complete personality change for me.”
Mark Glendenning, defending, said: “This is a somewhat unusual situation. Both ladies pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity so you will give them credit for that. Both were fully co-operative with police officers when arrested and interviewed.”
Mr Glendenning said McQuade acted after receiving calls from various people saying Mr Mock was married and making a number of unsubstantiated assertions.
He told the court: “They accept what they have done is foolish.
“They have displayed a number of posters on two occasions in the town of Royal Wootton Bassett with his picture and derogatory words. They are not sure what they intended to achieve and are not sure why they did it. “Both are of previous good character, brought spectacularly to an end by their actions on these two occasions.”
Magistrates gave both women 18-month conditional discharges and they were ordered to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge each.
The bench also imposed a restraining order for the same period to protect Mr Mock and banned them from going to Royal Wootton Bassett.