A man has been imprisoned after harassing a “vulnerable” Northampton man with threatening text messages and calls over two months.
Joe Houghton, aged 23, from Bicester, appeared at Northampton Crown Court on Wednesday, May 11 after being charged with harassment without violence.
The court heard that the victim was the new partner of Houghton’s ex-partner and Houghton first made contact in April 2020 when he challenged the victim about the relationship.
Houghton messaged and attempted to call the victim over Facebook messenger, telling him: “You are ****** now,” and “You better ring this phone or I am coming for you.”
Luc Chignell, prosecuting, told the court that - despite the victim blocking Houghton on Facebook - Houghton continued to make around 20 calls and send another 20 abusive text messages to the victim’s phone in April 2020.
Houghton was detained by police under the Mental Health Act on April 15, 2020 before being bailed under caution not to contact the victim.
Houghton, however, called the victim’s phone again shouting: “I will slit your throat,” the court heard. He was arrested again on May 16, 2020.
Mr Chignell, referring to the victim’s statement, said: “He felt anxious and unsafe in his property and the general area because he was worried the defendant would come and harm him at some point.
“This caused him to not go out as much and spend more time at his mother’s home.”
The prosecuting barrister described Houghton’s messages as “sinister” and “persistent.”
Houghton has previous convictions dating back to 2014 for possession of cannabis, assaulting a police constable, criminal damage and two counts of battery against his former partner.
Mr Chignell, expanding on the two counts of battery, described to the court how Houghton slapped his partner in the first instance and, on another occasion, grabbed her wrist and twisted it saying: “I hope I broke your arm.”
Alex Ridley, in mitigation, said Houghton suffers from mental health problems for which he takes medication, he has not offended in the last 19 months and has shown “positive signs” that he has moved away from offending.
He added that Houghton has “turned a corner” with regards to his relationship with his ex partner and is receiving support that is “crucial to prevent re-offending.”
The court heard that Houghton was in breach of community orders with regards to the battery convictions and he missed a number of probation appointments.
Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane said that an aggravating factor in this case is that the victim suffers with incomprehension as the result of a brain injury, which makes him vulnerable.
Judge Crane said: “You had many opportunities to engage with these community orders but your engagement has become sporadic.
“This is made more serious because of your previous convictions - two instances of battery - because they were of a domestic nature and children were present.”
Houghton, of Market End Way, Bicester, was given a prison sentence of one month for the first battery offence, three months for the second battery offence and a further eight months for harassment - all to run consecutively for a total of 12 months imprisonment.
Judge Crane additionally imposed a restraining order for three years.