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Stephen Rippon, 46, sent 'vile' grudge e-mails to police

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

Stephen Rippon, 46, sent 'vile' grudge e-mails  to police

"VILE and unnecessary" e-mails were sent to two police officers by a Liskeard man with a grudge, a court heard last week.

Stephen Rippon, who has mental health issues, felt he had been dealt with in an "oppressive" way by police, his solicitor, Richard Cogar, told Bodmin court.

Magistrates banned 46-year-old Rippon from contacting Sergeant Jo Williams and Inspector Tony Joslin in any way for the next two years after hearing of the distress his correspondence had caused.

Rippon, of Eastern Avenue, pleaded guilty to harassing Sergeant Williams between July 18 and 31 and Inspector Joslin between July 20 and 25 by sending numerous abusive emails when he appeared before the court on Friday (November 29).

He had previously denied the charges and had been due for trial that day.

Gail Hawkley, for the prosecution, said that Rippon had originally come to the attention of Sergeant Williams in 2010 following a neighbour dispute in which he was convicted of causing criminal damage to a neighbour's tree.

Rippon then launched a series of complaints about police officers – many of them directed at Sergeant Williams. The complaints were investigated but unproven, said Mrs Hawkley.

On July 18 Sergeant Williams was "shocked and upset" when she opened her Devon and Cornwall Police email account and found a personally abusive message from Rippon making allegations of misdemeanours. Several further emails were sent over subsequent days, all of a similar nature.

Inspector Joslin, who had been investigating a complaint by Rippon, also received e-mails.

On May 11, 2011, Rippon had been told that no further action would be taken by the Force Professional Standards department following his complaints.

However, two months later, on July 20, Inspector Joslin received an e-mail making accusations about him. The officer replied, appealing for Rippon to stop e-mailing and offering him help but Rippon continued.

In an interview with police Rippon accepted sending the e-mails but initially could not see why they were wrong, although later accepted he should have gone through the Independent Police Complaints Authority.

Richard Cogar, for the defence, said Rippon felt sending the e-mails was "the only way to deal with the oppressive behaviour" he had faced. The police, Rippon claimed, had not been rigorous enough in dealing with the neighbour dispute and he felt his neighbours had got away with "antisocial conduct".

There had been an incident in 2010 when five men who had entered his home were later cautioned and this had "done nothing to help the situation", said Mr Cogar.

He had learnt of the officers' e-mail addresses after launching his complaints but there had been no personal contact or threat of violence.

Rippon's wife had left him following the 2010 incident and he had lived on his own since. This had not helped his sense of paranoia and his mental health had deteriorated, said Mr Cogar.

Chairman of the bench David Stevens told Rippon: "These are serious complaints against you. Your e-mails might not have been threatening but they were vile and unnecessary and against two police officers doing their duty.

"Officers are there to do a job to protect the public."

The magistrates imposed a two-year conditional discharge on Rippon after hearing that he would not be suitable for a probation programme. A restraining order prohibits his contact with the officers. He was ordered to pay £115 in prosecution costs and victim surcharge.