A woman who threatened a news reporter in an attempt to get a court story removed has been convicted of a malicious communications offence.
27-year-old Stacey Reader pleaded guilty to sending threatening messages to Daniel Jae Webb with intent to cause distress at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, 14 September.
The offending came after a story was published about a relative who had been convicted of five assaults on a police officer, his mother, his sister and two girlfriends on 3 June this year.
The defendant, of Albany Close, Swindon, tried to have the story taken down on his behalf. After being told by the journalist that the story would not be removed from the web, she made threats.
The incident was reported to Wiltshire Police and they initially arrested Reader on suspicion of blackmail, an offence which carries a sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment. The Crown Prosecution Service later authorised a lesser charge under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.
District judge Joanna Dickens, adjourning the case for sentencing in October, ordered a pre-sentence report to be prepared. Reader was released on conditional bail.
Ahead of sentencing, Wiltshire Today founder Daniel Jae Webb said: “I hope this conviction sends a strong message to people who think it is acceptable to threaten or abuse journalists working to keep their communities informed, especially through the reporting of court hearings.
“You tend to develop a thick skin working in the news industry and turn a blind eye to most of the abuse you receive but some incidents are so serious that they cannot be ignored.
“It is really important to remember that journalists are human too – with a life outside of news, a family and friends. This kind of abuse not only affects the person it’s aimed at but everyone close to them.”
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