Northamptonshire man stapled phone to victim's clothes so he could track their every move and conversation

The 20-year-old man was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court today.
The 20-year-old man was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court today.

A 20-year-old Northamptonshire man stapled a mobile phone to a family member's clothing so he could track their every move and conversation, a court heard.

That was part of a wider controlling campaign of abuse towards the victim, who told Northampton Crown Court they were now frightened of their own shadow.

Harry Clarke, from Piddington, appeared before magistrates on October 22, charged with engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was remanded in custody.

He appeared before Northampton Crown Court on today, Friday, November 23, where he was sentenced to 12 months in prison and was given an indefinite restraining order.

The court heard that the victim was made to use buckets to go to the toilet, had to take cold showers for 18 months because of a broken boiler that remained unfixed and had £14,500 worth of debt racked up via credit cards and loans by Clarke.

The victim was prevented from seeing friends and family and was not allowed to wear make-up or jewellery.

Clarke stopped his family member from cooking and washing, meaning they would often wear the same clothes for several days, and he made the victim undress before him.

The court heard how a once “bubbly and confident” person was reduced to a “very nervous person” who now slept with the light on and bedroom door open to avoid feeling trapped.

Judge Marcus Tregilgas-Davey said Clarke's actions had had a "serious effect" on his victim and had left them unable to form relationships with other people.

Victoria Rose, prosecuting, told the court the defendant had recorded his victim all day “so he would be fully aware of their actions and whereabouts”.

“He recorded all his victim's conversations and he would then download the content when they got home,” said Ms Rose.

“He made [the victim] sit with him while he watched through the recording. If there were any gaps they would be subjected to assaults.”

These attacks included dropping dumbbell weights on the victim's feet and punches to their head and chest.

“It’s easy for people to say to me ‘couldn’t you just say something?’ said the victim in an impact statement read in court. “But when you are frightened it’s not that easy.”

Alexander Krikler, defending, told the judge his client had been bullied at school and isolated.

The Asperger’s diagnosis had come much later and so the defendant had not received proper treatment for it until recently.

“Since he had the diagnosis it’s offered him some sort of explanation for his behaviour and provided him with some comfort,” said Mr Krikler.

“He’s somebody that needs support and needs help and to address the very real issues that he has.”