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Canterbury stalker who contacted ex on Facebook Messenger caught out by poor spelling

A man who contacted his ex-girlfriend on social media despite a court ban was caught out by his own poor spelling.

Gary Young, a convicted flasher from Canterbury, was subject to an interim stalking protection order (SPO) when he sent the woman a series of messages via Facebook Messenger and then, having been blocked, an alias account.

Gary Young, from Canterbury, breached a court order when he contacted his ex-girlfriend. Picture: Kent Police
Gary Young, from Canterbury, breached a court order when he contacted his ex-girlfriend. Picture: Kent Police

Canterbury Crown Court heard his cover was blown when the victim not only recognised his writing style but also when police asked him to spell 'Somerset'.

One of his messages had made reference to the county as 'Summerset' - and matched the spelling Young dictated to officers after his arrest.

The 48-year-old then confessed to contacting his former partner, saying he had been drinking and only wanted to wish her well.

At the time of his offending, he was subject to the SPO as well as a suspended sentence imposed in March last year for three offences of exposure.

Nine years ago Young was also convicted of bombarding another woman with sexually explicit phone calls.

On that occasion, a court had heard he plagued the victim after visiting her house to give her a quote for a carpet cleaning job - and was again rumbled when she recognised him from a phrase he used.

In respect of Young's latest offences, prosecutor Craig Evans said the interim stalking order had been made in April last year for six months and prohibited him from having any form of direct or indirect contact with the victim.

However, Mr Evans told the court that after she downloaded several apps to a new phone, two messages from the defendant appeared when she opened Facebook Messenger on August 9.

They had been sent four days earlier and read "Are you OK? and "I'm happy for you well done".

The woman immediately blocked Young but less than a month later she discovered messages in her spam folder on the same app.

“He accepted that he probably had sent the messages when drunk...”

Although they appeared under the account name of 'Mary Montgomery', she recognised the author from his grammar and writing style, which included words such as 'Pickle cottage' and 'Mr chips', explained the prosecutor.

One read: "Please don't get Mr chips into trouble. Mr chips says he is normal and made a massive error in his life. Mr chips has a good heart."

Young was arrested and initially denied contacting his former partner.

"He was shown the screenshot of the messages on August 5 and said he did not recall sending the messages but accepted that they came from his account," Mr Evans told the court.

"He admitted having problems with alcohol and that he was receiving help for it. He accepted that he probably had sent the messages when drunk. He said it was a mistake."

Having then denied the Mary Montgomery Facebook account was his, police decided to test his spelling.

"He was asked how he spelt 'Somerset' - and spelt it incorrectly and in the same way as the messages," continued the prosecutor.

"He then admitted that he had likely sent the messages on his aunt’s phone and must have been drunk when he sent them.

"At the end of the interview, the defendant stated that he didn’t send the messages to be mean, that he did wish the victim all the best, and that he wanted to move on with his life."

Young, of St Margaret's Crescent, later admitted two breaches of the SPO and, as a consequence, being in breach of the sentence of 54 weeks' custody suspended for two years.

Young was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court
Young was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court

In an impact statement read to the court, the victim described how she felt her "privacy had been invaded" and had installed cameras at her home as a result.

She added that the contact from Young subsequent to his court ban being imposed had also forced her to "relive the past".

"This whole incident has had a massive impact on me. I find that I am much more nervous and emotional than I used to be," she wrote.

"I feel that before all of this I was quite outgoing, but now I feel uncomfortable even living in my own home.

"I have had to put cameras up at my house and feel that my privacy has been seriously invaded because of him.

"I have had to go through this once before with Gary, and I feel that this is now bringing up the past and it makes me really upset to have to go through this all over again.

"I just want to move on with my life and to be able to live normally, but I feel that he keeps me from doing this and it is having a profound effect on my mental health.

"I don’t think he realises how much of an effect on me he is really having."

Oliver Kirk, defending, said that having made good progress under the suspended sentence and addressing his problems with alcohol, Young was now "right back at square one".

"It's a matter he deeply and bitterly regrets. He feels he has let himself down and knows he only has himself to blame," the barrister told the court.

He also sadly revealed that just a day before Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Young's daughter had tragically died after a lengthy period in hospital with heart and lung problems.

"He has had to deal with that while in custody, and may have to continue to deal with that in custody," added Mr Kirk.

Jailing Young for 12 months, Judge Simon James said his history of ignoring court orders meant immediate imprisonment could not be avoided.

"Having been made subject to an interim stalking protection order, you contacted your ex-partner on a number of occasions via Facebook messenger, latterly using an alias account to do so," the judge told him.

"Although the messages were not threatening, they were sent in direct and blatant breach of a court order and placed you in breach of a suspended sentence order.

"Understandably, your continued conduct has had a marked and unsettling impact on your former partner."

The court heard that the interim SPO was replaced with a full, five-year order in October last year.

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