Online troll jailed for falsely claiming Southsea businessman was a paedophile and had 'children in the basement'
A TROLL has been jailed for a ‘reign of terror’ inflicted on a businessman he repeatedly falsely claimed was part of a paedophile ring by claiming online: ‘The children were in the basement’.
Dad-of-three Oliver Redmond, who referred to himself as ‘trolly face’ online, posted 15-20 times a day on social media about victim Paul Cheape, claiming the owner of Steamachine in Elm Grove, Southsea, was involved in a paedophile operation.
Yesterday Redmond rolled his eyes and shook his head in the dock as Mr Cheape’s victim statement revealed he had been suicidal, suffered hair loss, feared targeting by vigilante gangs and had to rebrand his business after the harassment.
But shamed Redmond 38, of Stirling Street, Buckland went stony-faced and still when it dawned on him he was about to be sent to prison.
An earlier hearing was told Redmond posted on Facebook: ‘Steamachine is fine so long are you’re not a 13-year-old girl.
‘I’m not saying the owner’s a self-confessed predator of underage Eastern European children... but I wouldn’t ask him to babysit.’
In a statement read by prosecutor Louise Walls in court, Mr Cheape said Redmond was ‘targeting people for his own personal entertainment and enjoyment’ and added he would continue his ‘reign of terror’.
Mr Cheape, who was harassed between June 2017 and January 2018, said: ‘He takes great pleasure in ruining the lives of others and from behind his computer screens laughs in the face of the law.’
He added: ‘As a result of this unrestricted torrent of hate speech and abuse I received every day I can’t walk alone as I have developed a deep-seated anxiety of being alone.
‘This has ruined my life, I am no longer a normal man, I am forever changed by this man.
‘I have had suicidal thoughts, thoughts of ending my life to escape the hurt that this person has... subjected me to.’
He added: ‘His words are poison, they are ruining my life, words such as “the two owners of Steam Machine are grooming children”.
‘My fiance is terrified and is constantly looking out the window in fear that our home will be targeted or our home will be attacked.’
Claire Jackson, representing Redmond at Salisbury Crown Court, said he started targeting Mr Cheape when the victim sacked one of his friends.
Redmond unleashed an ‘unrestricted tirade’ online and went on to contact Mr Cheape’s vape firm suppliers wrongly saying he was a paedophile in a successful effort to damage his business.
Stunned Mr Cheape was today reeling from the shock of Redmond being jailed for five months at the end of more than 12 months of court hearings.
The defendant had admitted in part carrying out the harassment but denied a malicious phone call when he spoke to Scottish Mr Cheape calling him a ‘paedophile jock’.
Redmond was convicted by Portsmouth magistrates but launched a doomed appeal with judge Timothy Mousley QC branding Mr Cheape’s evidence ‘credible’ and Redmond as evasive.
Sitting with magistrates who heard the appeal at Portsmouth Crown Court, judge Mousley imposed a three-year restraining order banning Redmond from contacting the victim or another business associate and posting on Facebook about him.
Judge Mousley said: ‘(Mr Cheape) said he saw 15-20 screenshots a day regarding him, his partner, and his business. It was described as a paedophile grooming operation and the suggestion was made that the children were in the basement of the store and he described that you were passing information on to his suppliers that he was a paedophile and that there was an international investigation involving Mr Cheape.’
He said: ‘These were grossly offensive comments you were making - it didn’t just affect him, it affected his family and it went on for a period of time.’
The judge added: ‘There’s no evidence to support your allegations that he was a paedophile in any way.’
Judge Mousley said Redmond had ‘fabricated a story that Mr Chaeape had threatened’ his mother, and added the phone call was not a ‘single isolated incident of malevolence and malicious behaviour towards Mr Cheape’.
The court heard much of Redmond’s abuse included xenophobic taunts. Mr Cheape added: ‘Not being of this country and not being of English birth I feel I am not at home in my country because of the... nationalist hate towards me.
‘As a result I feel victimised and segregated in my community and no longer feel like a member of the English community anywhere I go as this has deeply affected me and segregated me.’
He added: ‘This person’s unrestricted tirade on me and my fiance - this is causing me to become paranoid.’
Mr Cheape has restricted his shop Wi-Fi for fear someone could log on, download child abuse images and frame him.
‘I’m constantly looking over my shoulder,’ he said.
He added: ‘Oliver Redmond believes what he is doing is acceptable, he knows that it’s wrong but he chooses to do it anyway, not only targeting me but others.’
Redmond must pay £520 costs and a £50 victim surcharge. He denied the malicious phone call.