Ordeal for family whose lodger was a sex offender

SPARED JAIL John Robert Wilde
SPARED JAIL John Robert Wilde

CCTV released after woman’s bag is stolen

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A FAMILY have spoken of their disgust after they allowed a former friend to live in their home – not knowing he was a convicted sex offender.

John Robert Wilde – known as Bob – kept his past secret and went on to harass the daughter of Deborah and John McClelland, of Curdridge Close, West Leigh, who lived next door to them.

He sent 27-year-old single mum Louise McClelland vile sexual text messages, stole her childhood schoolwork and post, and got on to her property and pestered her.

The family had known Wilde for decades but had not seen him for around 20 years when he turned up at their catering stall at Fratton Park last year with a sob story about being bullied.

Mrs McClelland said: ‘We are absolutely gutted. John felt sorry for him. He said people were bullying him and taking his money. He lodged with us years ago and he was fine then. But now we know he is absolutely vile.

‘John is completely crushed, he blames himself.

‘I feel like I can’t trust anybody ever again. He was never, ever alone with our grandchildren but I will make sure that no-one else ever is.

‘My daughter is unwell and the more stressed out she gets, the worse she becomes. He knew that and just carried on and on.

‘He even went through the loft and took her old schoolwork. We found it in his bedroom. There were envelopes in there addressed to her.

‘When she found out she was absolutely petrified. She wouldn’t even come in the house to see us.’

It was in April the harassment began but Louise was too embarrassed to tell her parents about it.

In May, the letter and schoolwork were found.

Mr McClelland gave Wilde a warning but reluctantly allowed him to stay.

Then, last month while her parents were away, Miss McClelland awoke to Wilde screaming and shouting that he loved her from her front lawn in the middle of the night.

Terrified for the safety of her and her young daughter she called her parents who called police and he was arrested.

During his sentencing hearing at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court it was revealed the 51-year-old has previous convictions for sexual offences.

Miss McClelland said: ‘This was someone who had known me all my life. He had my number for emergencies only. I would go in and feed the animals when my parents were away.

‘I felt completely disgusted when I got the first message.

‘It was sick and made worse because it was sent by someone I knew. His excuse was that it was meant for a 19-year-old girl we know. That’s even worse.

‘It’s changed my life. The only times I go out now are to take my daughter to nursery and shopping once a week with my mum. I never answer the front door to anyone.

‘I’ve got an alarm on it now. And I think my dad feels guilty about what happened.

‘He wishes I’d told him about the messages at the beginning but they were so disgusting it’s not something you want to sit down and show your dad.’

At court, Wilde was sentenced to 13 weeks, suspended for a year, having earlier pleaded guilty to one count of harassment.

The three weeks spent on remand were taken into account and he was allowed to walk free from court with a 12-month supervision order and a restraining order preventing him from entering Curdridge Close for a year.

Wilde’s solicitor Adrian Dodd said being in prison for the past three weeks had been ‘a salutary experience’.