Online harassment has become a growing problem as the reach of technology has escalated.

Internet harassment can mean that the messages are continuous, and are causing distress and anxiety to a victim, so they do not have to be threatening or intimidating to constitute as this. 

In Wiltshire, there have been several people accused of, or taken to court for online harassment recently, including cases such as the following:

A 24-year-old woman from Penhill, Swindon was issued with a restraining order after sending inappropriate messages on Facebook to someone on 9 September last year.

According to Swindon Magistrates’ Court, the messages from Lucy Rebecca Goodenough were ‘grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.’ Lucy pleaded guilty on 22 December 2021.

Lucy was ordered to attend rehabilitation appointments, carry out 100 hours of unpaid work for the next 12 months, and pay a victim surcharge of £95.

40-year-old Lynda Collyer, of Monkton Deverill, was also taken to court after being accused of sending offensive voicemails, Instagram messages and Facebook messages to someone.

The court has described them as being ‘indecent or grossly offensive for causing distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom they intended that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.’

Lynda was sent for trial on 18 February this year, with no verdict given yet.

Until then she was on bail subject to the following conditions which were not to contact the person to whom she had been sending the messages to.

James Robert Williams, 43, was fined recently for breaching a restraining order in place to protect a woman from harassment.

James, of Amesbury, contacted her on Facebook on 17 June last year in Kent ‘without reasonable excuse’ according to Medway Magistrates’ Court.

He pleaded guilty on 13 April this year and was ordered to pay a total of £199.

Similarly, 62-year-old Michael Ian Shuttleworth also recently breached a restraining order in place from Winchester Crown Court on 22 December 2021.

Michael, of London Road, Salisbury, sent a woman a Facebook request on 18 February this year.

He was committed to prison for 26 weeks after pleading guilty on 21 February this year.

Swindon Magistrate’s Court stated that the offence was so serious because he; ‘offended while on licence shortly after release from prison, repeated offending on the same victim, DV and significant long term distress caused to the victim.’

No Public Sector Resourcing was required due to the seriousness of the offence and previous record custody.

Michael was also fined a total of £128.