A CHRISTMAS phone stalker who terrorised a woman he had never met with silent calls and sexual threats is behind bars for nine months.
Burnley Crown Court heard how the victim, who lived alone, had earlier got the wrong number and rung Neil Wood by mistake. He heard a female voice and, once he had her number, he bombarded her with calls, mostly saying nothing, but on one occasion telling her he wanted sex with her and laughing. She was left frightened and scared of men she didn’t know.
Wood, who was on a suspended jail term for arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, struck 25 times between December 7th and 29th. When the victim tried to find out who was at the end of the line, she had to go to her service provider. Police then traced the callls and the defendant was arrested, questioned and owned up. He claimed he did not get a “kick” out of what he had been doing.
Wood (40), of Southfield Street, Nelson, admitted harassment in breach of the suspended term and had been committed for sentence by magistrates. He was also given a two-year restraining order, banning him from contacting the victim.
Mrs Silvia Dacre (prosecuting) said the defendant told police he had been silly and accepted the victim would have been upset.
The defendant had a previous conviction for harassing his estranged wife by phone and text. In March last year, he had received a suspended prison sentence after twice putting a football shirt on door handles in a block of flats he lived in and setting them on fire. He also had a record for burglaries and threats to damage and to harm a witness.
Mr Richard Taylor, for Wood, said he presented as something of an enigma. He had gone through a very acrimonious divorce and, by last year, had been drinking far too much and was depressed. He had done well in complying with probation and had given up drinking immediately after the arson.
The solicitor continued: “He can’t give any explanation for why he got involved in this offence and the best I think I can put it is that the devil makes work for idle hands.” Mr Taylor said Wood had deleted the woman’s number by the time he was arrested. He added: “The defendant recognises it was most distressing.”
Sentencing, Recorder David Williams said the victim must have been very upset at the thought of going home, the phone ringing in the night and then having silence or a sexual threat when she answered it.
He told the defendant: “The court has got to mark it’s total disapproval of offences of this nature and protect women from the likes of you.”