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Emergency landing led to market trader John Lansdown harassing girl, court told

Gatwick airport, where Lansdown's flight was redirected. Library picture

A market trader from Herne says the trauma of a being on a flight that had to make an emergency landing led him to harassing a girl he loved.

John Lansdown, 30, sent text messages that were "aggressive, offensive and clearly designed to cause harassment" to Sophie Jones - apparently because she had a new partner and would not return his mobile phone.

Canterbury Crown Court heard one message read: "You are repulsive beyond words."

Lansdown, who also works at a pub in Grove Ferry, appeared for sentence having admitted harassing Miss Jones.

Ian Foinette, prosecuting, said they had got to know each other earlier this year and were friends on a casual basis. They had gone out for drinks, but nothing more serious.

Later, Lansdown told the victim's sister that he loved Sophie, but like a sister.

"i have read some of the messages. they were aggressive, offensive and clearly designed to cause harassment" – judge simon james

Mr Foinette said it was in April that he boarded a plane destined for Florida that had to make an emergency landing at Gatwick when one of the engines caught fire.

"It meant that there was a change in his personality," Mr Foinette said.

"He started to contact her with great regularity. He made calls and sent text messages, which were harassment and a number of them disturbed her."

Miss Jones changed her mobile phone number and reported it to police.

Officers visited Lansdown, who lives in School Lane, and issued him with a harassment warning, but he continued to contact her "to a level which was annoying".

Miss Jones had begun a relationship with a man called Luke King and had been showing police messages Lansdown had sent her - including the one reading: "You are repulsive beyond words."

Mr Foinette went on: "These messages were insulting, aggressive and offensive and she again reported this to police.

"Mr Lansdown provided a rambling account of how he had lent her a new phone and was anxious to get it back.

"He admitted sending messages and said he had often been under the influence of alcohol, adding that he felt a physical wreck after the emergency landing. He put that forward as an excuse for the conduct he had indulged in."Canterbury Crown Court

John Landsdown was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court

Lansdown has previous convictions for criminal damage, threatening and abusive behaviour and possessing an offensive weapon.

Phil Rowley, defending, told the court his client had undergone counselling after the emergency landing.

He said: "When the plane was diverted back to Gatwick, it was a very traumatic experience."

Judge Simon James told Lansdown: "Your conduct towards the victim became ever more concerning.

"I have read some of the messages. They were aggressive, offensive and clearly designed to cause harassment. They were entirely unacceptable.

"I take into account the apparent life-changing experience you have had but that is no excuse."

Lansdown was handed a four-month jail sentence, suspended for a year.

He must do 160 hours' unpaid work, have 12 months of supervision and pay £300 courts costs.

He was also given a restraining order preventing him from contacting Miss Jones or Mr King.

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