A MAN who sent his former partner a persistent stream of “vile” phone messages in breach of restraining order has been jailed for two years.

Joseph Bower, 26, of Annfield Plain, near Stanley, had been in and out of prison for several previous breaches, Durham Crown Court was told.

Passing sentence, Judge James Adkin said: “There are 40 voice messages and 11 text messages. They comprise predominantly vile invective and threats of violence towards your former partner and her family.

“There are also threats to intimidate her into not going to the police embedded in those messages.

“The victim personal statement describes the deterioration in mental health of your former partner as a result of your verbal abuse.

“Her anxiety was so bad she was signed off work with stress for a year.”

He added: “It seems to me this is your tenth breach in relation to this complainant and you have been sentenced to prison before on multiple occasions

“You don’t seem to care about the restraining order. You seem to enjoy bullying and intimidating your ex-partner. It seems to me you are still obsessed with her. I propose to pass a sentence which deters you from contacting her.”

Conor Quinn, prosecuting, said Bower had 13 previous convictions for 19 offences, including harassment in December 2016, which led to the imposition of the present restraining order.

He said: “Between March 27 and May 24 this year Bower sent 40 voice messages and 11 text messages to his ex-partner in breach of restraining order in force to October 2022, which prohibited communication with her by any means whatsoever.”

Among the messages he said, if she contacted the police they would “need an army” to keep him away. He also called her variously, a “dirty tramp, smelly cow, little rat and absolute weirdo”, as well as using other obscenities.

In her victim personal statement, his former partner said: “I don’t understand why he just cannot just leave me alone. This has gone on for almost four years. His behaviour is obsessive and it frightens me.

“The police are doing their job, but he only gets sent to prison and is released after a couple of weeks. It feels like he is laughing at me. I don’t ever get real justice.”

The victim said Bower had turned up at her house after being released before and she was worried he would carry out his threats.

Lorraine Mustard, mitigating, said contact was initiated by the former partner and Bower knew he was not permitted to respond. The exchange was initially amicable, but they fell out.

She said: “He acknowledges the messages were dreadful, but he had no intention of ever harming her.”

Bower, of Elizabeth Street, Annfield Plain, pleaded guilty to a breach of a restraining order and sending an electronic communication with the intent to cause distress, as well as to growing 12 cannabis plants.