A ‘neighbour from Hell’ who embarked on a campaign of hate after being accused of assaulting a man living in his street has been jailed.
Peter Johnson, of Ivy Lane, Alsager, pleaded guilty to five counts of stalking involving serious alarm/distress.
The 58-year-old was sentenced for the offences at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday 25 June.
Labelled ‘vile’ and an ‘evil man’ by the judge, he was jailed for two years and four months and given a lifetime restraining order prohibiting him from contacting any of his five victims, either directly or indirectly.
The order also prohibits Johnson from ever returning to Alsager, despite him owning a house in the town, and contacting anyone in relation to the victims.
Johnson was arrested on suspicion of assaulting one of the five victims in 2002.
The case was dropped and Johnson embarked on a campaign of psychological vigilante justice against those who had given evidence against him.
Johnson tormented neighbours, one of whom is in their 90s, on an almost daily basis.
He threatened neighbours in the street and verbally abused them.
On one occasion Johnson threatened to stab one of his victims with a carving knife, and on another he swung a metal bar around and paced up and down his driveway whilst gesticulating towards victims within their home.
He distressed one victim by following him around a supermarket and circling around him when Johnson was in his car at a golf club car park.
Johnson also phoned victims to verbally abuse and torment them.
Elderly neighbours were inundated with funeral director brochures through the post that they had not requested.
An obituary notice was even sent to an elderly victim claiming that they had passed away and celebrating their death.
This was one of a series of malicious and abusive letters that Johnson’s victims received.
Such letters were also sent to victims’ GP surgery, workplace, clients of the company they worked for and even a Royal Air Force base.
Claiming to have been written by the victim, or a concerned associate of the victim, letters sent outside the street contained numerous unfounded defamatory accusations.
These include accusations of terrorism, Nazi collaboration, drug addiction, cannibalism, paedophilia, bestiality and homosexuality, as well as an accusation of one of the victims having Aids.
One letter sent to a GP surgery claimed that a victim had sexually abused his son.
Due to the letters that were sent, a victim had to be investigated by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit and was prohibited from engaging with or working near children or vulnerable people.
The claims the unit investigated proved to be unfounded.
Some of the malicious letters investigated by Cheshire Constabulary were proven to have been written and printed out by Johnson at Alsager Library.
Police Constable Collette Cook, the officer who was in charge of the investigation into Johnson’s stalking activities, said: “This neighbour from Hell made his victims’ lives a misery, tormenting some of them on an almost daily basis.
“It is one of the worst cases of its kind that we have ever dealt with at Cheshire Constabulary. He left victims, including one in their 90s, worried about leaving their homes, answering their phones and looking at their mail.
“Johnson waged psychological war on those who had given evidence against him in relation to an accusation of assault in 2002.
“This psychological war began with things like needlessly parking in front of victims’ houses, waving frantically and grinning at them and staring into their homes for long periods and has escalated to serious stalking offences between January 2018 and March 2019.
“Once these offences were reported to us we investigated Johnson’s activities and proved that he was responsible for abusive phone calls and letters that victims received.
“He subsequently pleaded guilty to stalking offences involving each of the five victims and the extent of his offending is reflected in the severity of the sentence he has received.
“We are delighted that he is now behind bars facing the consequences of his actions and has been given a lifetime restraining order prohibiting him from going into Alsager upon his release or making any sort of contact in relation to any of the victims.
“I hope that the sentence that has been handed out by Chester Crown Court deters others from committing similar offences and enables the victims in this case to move forward with their lives.”
Detective Constable David Thomason, who works as part of the force’s Integrated Anti-Stalking Unit, which assisted with the investigation, added: “This is an unusual case and it highlights the fact that there are many different types of stalking and there can be multiple victims.
“Johnson’s behaviour has had a substantial impact on his victims’ lives.
“Thankfully his stalking behaviour was reported to the police and Johnson has now been brought to justice.
“The Integrated Anti-Stalking Unit provided tactical and investigative advice in this case and assessed the risks posed by Johnson.
“Identifying Johnson’s behaviour as stalking was critical so that the correct response, investigation and sentencing could be imposed.
“I hope that this case encourages other victims of stalking offences to come forward and report what they are being subjected to.
“Cheshire Constabulary takes any allegation of stalking extremely seriously.
“Such allegations will be dealt with robustly and the specialists in the Integrated Anti-Stalking Unit will continue to assess and manage risks through a range of tactics.”
To report a stalking offence call Cheshire Constabulary on 101. Information can also be passed anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.