'appalling' | 

Stalker who threatened to kidnap ex if she did not sleep with him jailed for four months

Gareth Bullen (40) claimed his actions were just “banter”

John Lee

A man who stalked an ex-partner, threatened to kidnap her and ripped up underwear in her front garden has been handed a four-month jail sentence.

Gareth Bullen was bailed for an appeal, but the judge said: “I can’t imagine a worse case of stalking.”

The court heard harrowing details of his victim’s ordeal. She had to block the 40-year-old on social media and told him to leave her alone “hundreds of times’’.

Bullen bought her gifts including paintings, a handbag and a puppy, but they were all returned.

His stalking resulted in his victim seeking help at a hospital in Antrim, but he followed her there.

Bullen, of Mill Terrace in Carrickfergus, pleaded guilty to harassing the woman between April and June last year.

A hearing in Ballymena last Tuesday was told the pair had been in a relationship that had turned toxic because of his controlling behaviour.

Unable to accept it was over, he bombarded her with messages from different social media accounts.

A security camera the victim installed at her home captured footage of Bullen “leaving a bag of newly bought cut-up women’s underwear”.

He later returned to the house and ripped up lingerie in her front garden.

The woman said Bullen had been “spying on her home”, and after she collected the unwanted puppy, he hurled abuse at her.

His messages also turned threatening, with the defendant warning in one that if she did not have sex with him, he would kidnap her.

Bullen claimed this was just “banter”, but a defence barrister conceded his client’s behaviour had been “absolutely appalling” and “genuinely concerning”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said: “This is a very serious case of harassment, possibly one of the worst I have seen in recent memory.

“It is quite clear from the victim impact statement that this victim has been traumatised on many occasions by your behaviour.

“[There has been] foul and abusive messages, stalking and spying, going to the extent of placing at her door or home underwear that is cut up and threatening to kidnap her. I can’t imagine a worse case of stalking.”

Judge Broderick added he was concerned that despite pleading guilty, Bullen had shown “limited or no remorse”, according to a probation officer.

As well as the four-month jail sentence, the defendant was handed a two-year restraining order. He was released on £500 bail pending an appeal.

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