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Journalist’s abuser avoids jail despite ‘lack of remorse’

Daniel Jae WebbAn abuser who bombarded a journalist with hundreds of phone calls has been spared jail – despite a judge’s concern about his lack of remorse.

Craig Deyager was given a community order over the threats and abuse he sent to Daniel Jae Webb, although Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard the defendant was “obviously not sorry for what you have done” after he interrupted District Judge Joanna Dickens during sentencing.

HTFP reported last month how Deyager had admitted harassing Daniel, pictured, after he covered his sentencing for drug driving.

Just 25 minutes after the story was published, the 36-year-old began making phone calls to the journalist – ringing him more than 160 times in over a five-hour period in an attempt to have the story removed. He also sent text messages threatening to turn up to Daniel’s house and publish his address online.

Keith Ballinger, prosecuting, told the sentencing hearing Deyager failed to comply with the probation service in order to compile a pre-sentence report, as ordered by the court.

Richard Williams, defending, said in response his client had been struggling with the death of his grandmother at the same time as he received his drug-driving conviction and subsequently made the news.

Daniel was in court to cover the hearing for his new Wiltshire Today venture, which he runs alongside a part-time reporting role with news agency SWNS.

Judge Dickens initially accepted Deyager was remorseful for his actions, but changed her mind after he began shaking his head and interrupting her.

The judge told the court: “This kind of offence is really serious because when [journalists] come to court, it is a public place and they are allowed to report about it. We have a free press in this country.

“If they write wrong things, that’s different, but if they write the truth – what’s happening in court – unfortunately you just have to live with that.

“If, as a society, we attack the press, we’re all doomed because no one’s ever going to be a journalist and no one is ever going to report things.

“Obviously you were going through a tough time, but that’s not really any excuse at all. Mr Webb doesn’t need to be subject to that campaign of harassment and indeed, would have been absolutely terrified.

“No doubt he is still frightened of the consequences of this going forward.

“As he said in his victim personal statement, he has a thick skin but he’s only human. At the end of the day, this is absolutely not acceptable.”

As Judge Dickens handed down a community order, Deyager was seen to shake his head before interrupting her.

She added: “I do accept that you are sorry for what you have done – I’m a bit concerned that you’re shaking your head, but I do accept you seem to be sorry for what you have done, which is a positive thing.

“It’s normally, bearing in mind how serious this is, it is probably serious to warrant a prison sentence. I’m not going to impose that today because of what I have heard about you, because of your disabilities and because of the mitigation, and your guilty plea.”

Deyager then complained about the fact his name and address were published in the news, the issue which had landed him in court.

At this point, Wiltshire Today reported the judge “angrily slammed shut her laptop and began raising her voice at Deyager”.

She told Deyager: “I’m actually concerned about whether I should be sending you to prison today now, because I’m really concerned you’re not at all remorseful for what you’ve done.”

The defendant claimed he was remorseful, but the judge added: “No you’re not. You’re still saying to me that you’re upset about what he has done, giving out your address – he is required to give out people’s names and addresses.

“You are obviously not sorry for what you have done. I have put the case back, speak to your solicitor and if you’re not properly remorseful you can go to prison.”

After a short recess, Judge Dickens imposed a one-year community order with 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days and ordered Deyager to pay £300 compensation to Daniel.

She also imposed a two-year restraining order, prohibiting the defendant from contacting his victim directly or indirectly.

Speaking to HTFP, Daniel said: “District Judge Dickens made it clear that abuse against journalists will not be tolerated in this country.

“Courts are public places and the press have the freedom to report cases heard in them.

“Mr Deyager’s drug driving case was no different, however, he proceeded to harass me in a bid to have the story removed.

“I welcome the sentence handed down to Mr Deyager and I hope he has since learned his lesson, despite arguing with the Judge and showing little remorse in court.”