A ex-soldier who breached a restraining order landed himself in even more hot water by producing a bogus document in court to back up his lies.
But William Strefford’s deception unravelled when suspicions were aroused and he has now been jailed for 10 months - jeopardising the new life he had started in Australia.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that ironically it was unlikely that he would have been jailed for breaching the order but his lies meant a custodial sentence was inevitable.
The 42-year-old had been banned from contacting his ex-wife and their two daughters after an acrimonious separation following their 20-year marriage but he breached the court order by ringing her from a phone box in Wigan.
He was consequently hauled before the local magistrates court for breaching the order by making the call which contained “a veiled threat that you ‘were coming after the children’.” Allegations that he had made three other calls to her were dropped.
He denied the offence and on the first day of his trial he gave his lawyer a document purporting to show that just nine minutes after the call had been made at lunchtime on January 30, 2014, he was logging onto a computer at Fulwood army barracks in Preston, where he was based.
The CPS lawyer then received a telephone call from the purported author of the document, Sgt Roberts “who confirmed it was accurate”, said Frank Dillon, prosecuting.
His alibi meant he could not have made the phone call to his ex-wife Claire Tither but during subsequent police investigations officers spoke to Sgt Peter Roberts who said he had not written the document nor spoken to the CPS lawyer.
Strefford, of Leigh Road, Leigh, denied attempting to pervert the course of justice but was convicted of that and breaching the non-molestion order after a trial at the crown court last month.
During his sentencing hearing he claimed that he left the army as a staff sergeant after a successful career but the mother of his new partner sitting in the public gallery shouted out “that’s a lie. He was a corporal when he left”.
After his army discharge papers were produced it was found that because of medical problems he had been unable to perform his role as staff sergeant and had in fact left the military as a corporal.
Sentencing Strefford, the judge, Recorder Stephen Riordan, QC, said that his ex-wife and children had been badly affected by his behaviour and had also had to change phone numbers.
He said that he took into account his distinguished army career, serving in Bosnia, Iraq and Northern Ireland and his experiences left him with post traumatic stress disorder which may have contributed to his marriage breakdown and the offences.
The judge said that if he had admitted the breach at the magistrates’ court and promised not to do it again the justices would not have jailed him.
He pointed out that Strefford had given a slanted version of events to the doctor who prepared a psychological report.
He said that he not only made the telephone call but produced the fake document and got someone to make the bogus call to the CPS.
There had been a degree of persistence, he added.
He imposed a five-year restraining order keeping Strefford away from his wife, who was also in the public gallery, and their children.
Simon Nicholl, defending, said that Strefford’s marriage breakdown was more acrimonious than some and it was a personal tragedy all round.
He explained that if he was jailed for 12 months or more he would be refused a visa to his Australia, where he has started living.