Man jailed over harassment hoax

Steven Whitehead
Steven Whitehead
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A FRAUDSTER has been jailed after his bogus harassment claims cost the taxpayer £22,000 in pointless police investigations.

Steven Whitehead, 48, of Rose Avenue, Blackpool, admitted perverting the course of justice when he appeared at Preston Crown Court.

The businessman and father-of-three was told he had created an “elaborate scheme of deception which was an attempt to connect people to serious criminal activity”.

Whitehead had alleged he was at the centre of harassment and stalking by two men, believed to be his wife’s ex partners.

The court was told he had claimed to police he was the victim of arson and burglary as well as harassment through text messages and that damage had been inflicted to his car.

In one incident, he told officers his car had been set on fire and in another he claimed his brakes had been tampered with causing him to crash on Blackpool Promenade.

Two men were arrested and held in custody following the allegations, which were made between March and July 2009.

But police began to get suspicious as they looked at the damage to his car.

And a forensic report revealed a fire in the engine compartment could only have been started by someone with a key to get access to the vehicle.

Robert Smith, prosecuting, told the court Whitehead had made a series of complaints to police which were false and which he knew to be false.

Whitehead denied all charges of perverting the course of justice but changed his plea as the case was about to go to trial.

Sarah Booth, defending told the court: “This is a man who remains of the view there’s a big conspiracy against him.

“I have received written instructions from him that the case should proceed to sentence.

“This was a campaign against two people.

“Officers took statements from Mr Whitehead’s wife who said these two men might be involved when inquiries were made into who may have had a motive for the damage to his car.

“This led to the two men being arrested.

“The motive remains unclear.”

A large number of police were said to be involved in the investigations at an estimated cost of £22,100 to the taxpayer.

Whitehead’s wife, who is registered disabled and suffers from chronic arthritis and anxiety, was originally charged with the offence but the case was dropped.

Sentencing Whitehead to 18 months in prison, of which he must serve half before being released on licence, recorder Charles Garside QC said: “These were nasty offences in terms of the consequences for the two men involved.

“There must be a significant underlying issue.

“The charge is perverting the course of justice and a situation like this does undermine our law system.

“You have pleaded guilty to what was an elaborate scheme of deception which was an attempt to connect people to serious criminal activity.

“Although you did plead guilty, you did so at a late stage and continue to imply you never did anything of the kind.

“I have to bear in mind the cost incurred to police in investigating this matter and the persistence you displayed in incriminating others.

“Your inaccurate reports led to two people being arrested and interviewed and held in police custody, this must have had a profound effect on them.”