Campaigner Penny Mellor spared jail for ‘relentless’ stalking campaign against child abuse victim
Author Shy Keenan said her good name had been ‘immeasurably tarnished’ by ordeal at Mellor’s hands
Penny Mellor sent “a relentless barrage” of tweets and emails claiming Shy Keenan had made up parts of her best-selling autobiographical misery memoir, Broken.
She described Essex-based Ms Keenan’s 2008 book as “titillation for paedophiles” and alleged the author was fraudulently making money out of it.
Mellor wanted it withdrawn from sale, claiming it was obscenely graphic, and admitted she became incensed and frustrated when her messages were ignored.
Passing sentence at Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge David Turner QC told Mellor she had “crossed the line” between free speech, robust disagreement and exposure of untruth and descended into criminal harassment.
He said : “You have a fearlessness and a determination which properly channelled have served some controversial causes well. But you have, not for the first time allowed your passion, your self-belief, to overshadow your judgment and personal restraint.”
The judge said Mellor was not Ms Keenan’s only internet stalker but Mellor’s actions and personal revelations had added to her victim’s genuine anxiety and insecurity.
He referred to the “war of words” and said some of Mellor’s tweets, emails and blogs had been “downright nasty and personal”.
“You are both campaigners. You had taken a particular view of Ms Keenan, her work, her integrity, her journalism, her influence and principally her autobiographical book Broken which incensed and frustrated you.”
Mellor, he said, sent “a fairly relentless barrage of tweets and emails” directed at Ms Keenan or posted them so she would see or learn about them.
He warned her any repeat would see her immediately sent to prison.
Mellor told the judge: “To be honest I have had enough.
“I just want an end to it.”
Judge Turner replied: “That makes two of us, to be blunt.”
Mellor, 53, of Coven Mill Close, Coven, near Wolverhampton, runs Dare to Care.
The group campaigns for parents falsely accused of Munchausen by Proxy, where illness is fabricated to gain attention.
She had denied but was convicted last month of stalking Ms Keenan, causing her serious alarm or distress between January 1and March 16 2013.
Mellor was made the subject of a community order, put under a year’s supervision and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
She was also hit with a five-year restraining order and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Keenan said she now needed expensive round-the-clock care because of Mellor’s actions and had needed to spend tens of thousands of pounds on security and protection.
Ms Keenan said: “While her conviction affords me some vindication, my good name as a truth-telling victim of crime has been immeasurably, forever, tarnished.”