Hartlepool man used fake Facebook account to get girlfriend's ex-husband arrested
A man created fake online accounts in a successful bid to get his girlfriend's ex-husband arrested.
Martin Richardson used the accounts to send threats to his girlfriend and himself, purporting to come from the ex-husband.
Richardson wanted to help his girlfriend in a dispute she had with her ex-husband, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Both Richardson and his girlfriend are deaf, prosecutor Shaun Dryden told the court.
"He acted as a signer for her at a family court hearing in Durham," added Mr Dryden.
"A non-molestation order was made, partly based on the behaviour falsely described in the Facebook messages.
"The next day, Richardson made it look as if the ex-husband had breached the order by sending threatening messages to himself and his partner from an account falsely using the ex-husband’s name.
"Among the remarks made were that he was going to murder and burn her house down.
"She made statements to police about the threats, as did Richardson about the threats made to him.
"As a result, the ex-husband was arrested and spent 19 hours in custody.
"He lives in another part of the country, and Richardson also made posts to internet groups in that area falsely claiming the ex-husband was a child rapist."
The court was told Richardson was caught after a forensic examination of the account purporting to be that of the ex-husband.
"Computer records showed it had been created at Richardson's address in Hartlepool," said Mr Dryden.
"It had been accessed at the Hartlepool home of his partner.
"Throughout this time, the real ex-husband was hundreds of miles away.
"When confronted, Richardson said the ex-husband had used a tablet during a visit to Hartlepool to check his emails.
"Richardson had been able to get the ex-husband's email details and date of birth from the tablet, which in turn allowed him to create the Facebook accounts.”
Richardson, 27, of Raby Gardens, Hartlepool, admitted perverting the course of justice, harassment, and fraud, all between 2016 and 2017.
The court was told Richardson telephoned the ex-husband's solicitor, claiming to be the ex-husband, and threatened to kill her and burn her office down.
"She knew it cannot have been her client due to the caller's speech impediment," said Mr Dryden.
"Richardson also called another partner in the firm purporting to be a solicitor seeking details of the family case.
"The fraud offence relates to an unsuccessful attempt made by Richardson to apply for a £2,000 loan in the name of the ex-husband."
Jennifer Coxon, defending, said Richardson has many personal problems.
"His deafness is compounded by learning and mental health difficulties," she added.
"He became too involved in his partner's legal dispute with her ex-husband, for which he is very sorry.
"This offending was of no benefit to him.
"It was some time ago, the relationship is now stable, and Mr Richardson enjoys the support of his family."
Judge Peter Armstrong jailed Richardson for 27 months.
The judge told him: "There was a degree of sophistication about this offending which rather belies the educational difficulties spoken of in the pre-sentence report.
"It was determined, as it was wicked, causing a man to be accused and kept in custody for something he did not do.
"I do take into account the problems you have, and that this offending was some time ago, but only immediate custody is appropriate."
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We are pleased with the sentence handed to Martin Richardson, it reflects the severity of the offences and shows that police will take action wherever possible to bring those responsible for crimes like this to justice.”