Essex: Restraining order for man guilty of harassment

02/06/2014

A man has been found guilty by Southend Magistrates' Court of harassment after sending a barrage of letters to Basildon Council bosses over a six month period.

Steve Barratt, 53, from Lower Park Road, Wickford was found guilty by the District Judge on Monday, 2 June, 2014, after it emerged he had been sending abusive, threatening and derogatory letters and emails to former council leader Tony Ball, chief executive Balaskandan Mahendran and solicitor Lorraine Browne.

Southend Magistrates' Court heard that the letters and emails were sent between 1 March 2013 and 20 September 2013.
The letters were sent by Barratt to demand answers from the three about a criminal prosecution of his estranged wife. However, after his letters failed to give him the response he was looking for, he told the council he would be making allegations against the officers that they were part of a paedophile ring.

Jenny Swift, Senior Crown Prosecutor, for the Crown Prosecution Service in the East of England, said: "Barratt had spent a considerable amount of time writing letters because he said he was aggrieved at the manner in which Mrs Barratt had been dealt with by council officials. However, what started as a complaint resulted in a vendetta where false and harmful statements were made including that council officers were part of a paedophile ring. This is where a protest about a council service escalated out of control, as well as the very number of letters sent is why Barratt has now been successfully prosecuted."

Barratt was sentenced to a restraining order prohibiting him from contacting the officers directly and also prohibiting him from publishing any statement of fact about them or any elected councillor referring to their personal character or conduct.
The order shall remain in effect until 1 June 2017.

Barratt also faces charges of producing a class B drug after cannabis plants were allegedly found being grown at his home by officers investigating the harassment allegations.