Southsea businessman falsely branded a paedophile considered suicide over abuse from online troll

Paul Cheape said his life has changed in way he cannot explain since the online trolling
Paul Cheape said his life has changed in way he cannot explain since the online trolling

A BUSINESSMAN falsely branded a paedophile by an online troll says his life has been ‘forever changed’ by the actions of his abuser, a court heard.

Southsea shop owner Paul Cheape, 32, said he had suicidal thoughts after father-of-three Oliver Redmond spread false rumours about him from June 2017 to January this year.

Oliver Redmond outside Portsmouth Crown Court Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency

Oliver Redmond outside Portsmouth Crown Court Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency

Redmond, 37, of Stirling Street, Buckland, was due to be sentenced for harassment and malicious communication at Portsmouth's Crown Court yesterday, but as he is appealing the second charge the matter has been adjourned until next month.

Prosecuting, Gareth Burrows said Redmond put a high degree of thought and planning into spreading the rumours, and left Mr Cheape with anxiety, depression, alopecia, high levels of stress and suffering a big financial loss.

In a victim personal statement Mr Cheape, owner of Steamachine in Elm Grove, said: 'My personal life has suffered more than I can explain. I'm constantly looking over my shoulder.

‘I’ve had suicidal thoughts, thoughts of ending my life.

‘My partner refuses to live in Portsmouth and has changed her name on Facebook and carries a personal alarm.

'I can't speak to anyone, people do not understand what it's like to fall victim to such lies.'

As reported, Redmond previously pleaded guilty to harassing Mr Cheape, originally from Scotland, and was convicted of malicious communication following a trial.

The court heard the comments made by Redmond over the months referred to him as a paedophile, liking underage children and called him ‘a tweed-wearing pervert’.

Mr Cheape feared attacks from paedophile hunters and was even told by customers comments were being made about him online. He told The News earlier this year his vape shop Steamachine lost £75,000 in trade in 2017.

Mr Burrows said Redmond spread the lies via online vaping forums, social media, even seeking out Cheape’s suppliers.

In June 2017 a customer told Mr Cheape part of a comment made by Redmond online about him read: ‘I wouldn't ask him to babysit’.

In his statement, Mr Cheape added: ‘He seeks out my suppliers to spread lies about me. If people don't believe me he abuses them.

'He knows its wrong but he does it anyway. This is not isolated or out of character for him.

‘A small search for his name reveals his online username and he refers to himself as an online troll.

‘I'm forever changed by his actions.

‘My health has declined, I’ve had massive amounts of mental stress and hospital appointments.

‘I feel I'm no longer a member of the English community.

‘He tried to ruin my business and my livelihood.’

Mr Cheape said someone had even shouted ‘paedo’ at him from a moving car in the street.

He has now turned his former vape shop into Green Machine – a CBD dispensary. CBD is a cannabis compound that is used for healing medical conditions.

Redmond will be sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court on November 16 after his appeal is heard.