Scorned lover spared jail after smear campaign

Burnley Magistrates Court.
Burnley Magistrates Court.

A “Jekyll and Hyde” business development manager who launched a smear campaign to try and get his school office manager ex-fiancée sacked after she dumped him has been spared jail.

Craig Anthony Riley (45) was so bitter when Paula Wallace ended their two-and-half year relationship last June, he had threatened to mess up her life.

Just 24 hours later, the scorned father-of-six started bombarding her boss Andrea Holt with malicious emails, falsely claiming Miss Wallace was a cocaine addicted alcoholic who beat her children and had even embezzled school funds, Burnley magistrates had been told.

Riley had alleged it had been his moral duty to tell Mrs Holt, head of Sharneyford Primary, that Miss Wallace “wasn’t fit for her role there.”

His lies went so far as to threaten to hand out A4 leaflets about mother-of-five Miss Wallace (41) to parents at the small village school in Bacup and to go to the press – causing his victim even more worry.

An earlier hearing was told the “irrational” defendant wanted Miss Wallace, with whom he has twin sons, dismissed and struggling for money so she might eventually be forced to go back with him.

Yet, after sending five of the derogatory messages, he had texted the victim, with kisses, telling her: “If there is even the minutest chance you will ever want me again, I will be waiting for you. I love you and always will,” the court heard.

The justices were told an internal audit was carried out at the school after Riley’s theft allegation against the victim and it revealed no financial irregularities. The other allegations made against the innocent victim by the defendant were also untrue.

The defendant, who had proposed to Miss Wallace at Turf Moor, where he is a season ticket holder, had been given a verbal harassment warning by police last July 10th, but took no notice.

Riley received a domestic violence caution, for battery, during his relationship with Miss Wallace.

The victim had had a home personal alarm fitted and felt physically sick when she received an email or text from him.

Riley (45) of Straight Mile Court, Burnley, had denied harassment on or between June 22nd and September 7th last year, at Bacup and Burnley.

The defendant, a business development manager with a firm which advises the NHS, was found guilty after a trial in front of the justices. He had no previous convictions.

Riley was given 12 weeks in custody, suspended for 18 months, with a 10 day rehabilitation activity requirement and 100 hours unpaid work.

He was ordered to pay £400 costs, an £80 victim surcharge and £750 compensation.

Riley also received a two year restraining order, banning him from contacting the victim, Mrs Holt or any staff at the school and from going within 50 metres of Miss Wallace’s home in Burnley and 100 metres of the school.

Chairman of the bench Ian Gaskell had told the defendant on conviction: “It’s not a coincidence that the day after you broke up with Miss Wallace the emails started arriving at school.

“You launched this vindictive and vicious attack on her character, which was specifically designed to put her under pressure at work. This has placed her in a terrible position. Her life has been made hell over the months of this offence.

“We are hoping today to bring this sad saga of unrequited love to an end.

“Get on with your life. More importantly, you let Miss Wallace get on with her life.”