Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Jailed for Campaign of Hate against Ex; Former Chairman Denied Harassment

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Jailed for Campaign of Hate against Ex; Former Chairman Denied Harassment

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Kennedy

AFORMER parish councillor in Northumberland is today starting a prison sentence for subjecting his former lover to a race-hate campaign when she started a relationship with a Nigerian man.

Jim Burley, 75, was yesterday jailed for eight months after sending a series of poison pen letters to Sharon Auld.

The former chairman of Pegswood Parish Council had denied racially aggravated harassment but was convicted last month after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Despite his age and the fact he is suffering from prostate cancer, a judge said only a prison sentence could meet the justice of the case.

A victim impact statement by Ms Auld was read to the court outlining the effect Burley's actions had on her, as she listened in the public gallery.

In the document, she said: "I felt like a prisoner in my own home.

"I have gained no satisfaction from this court case and would trade it all for a normal lifestyle, which Burley has not allowed me to have for the past six years."

Ms Auld went on to say Burley's actions put unbearable stress on her relationship with Frank Olufemi and led to him leaving Pegswood.

She said: "The letters were sent to me because I dared to be engaged to Frank, who was black.

"Burley's actions put pressure on the relationship and Frank couldn't bear to be the reason I was being targeted, so he left. We were so happy and would have been married by now were it not for Burley."

Ms Auld, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, said she had installed round the clock CCTV at her home in Pegswood and now keeps the doors locked and blinds closed and is afraid to go out.

Burley, a retired coal industry manager, had previously been convicted of harassment against Ms Auld in 2008 and breaching a restraining order imposed to protect her in 2009.

Then in 2010 he found out about her new partner and started sending grossly offensive letters to Ms Auld at her home in Pegswood, near Morpeth. …

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