Stalker made arson threats

Crime story
Crime story

A WIGAN man who launched a terrifying stalking campaign against a former love rival has been jailed.

As well as repeatedly walking past his victim’s home and shouting threats that he would burn down the house where he lived with four young children, James Humberstone put similar chilling messages on social media.

Jailing 40-year-old Humberstone for 18 months a judge, Recorder Richard Pratt, QC, told him. “What you did was utterly disgraceful.

“You made public threats not only to Gavin Alker but worse still you posted photographs of his children on Facebook, making it quite clear with the wording that you were threatening to cause very serious harm.”

He added that it was clear from the pictures he had posted on Facebook that he had wanted to frighten his victim into thinking he would burn down his home and seriously endanger him and his family.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Humberstone’s position was aggravated by him having appeared in court in March 2012 making similar threats to someone else for which he received a community order. That offence had also involved jealousy over his ex-wife Dawn.

David Polglase, prosecuting, said that Mr Alker had a relationship with Humberstone’s wife when the couple were still married but he then moved away from the area for 12 years.

He returned in September 2013 and in spring this year briefly resumed the relationship - by which time she and Humberstone were no longer married - but it ended soon after.

On June 18 he was in Ormskirk Road, Pemberton, Wigan, when Humberstone called his name but he did not recognise him and ignored it.

Two days later a woman friend told him to look on Facebook and he saw that on June 18 on an account called ‘Psycho Wigan’, photographs of his children, which had been taken from his own account, had been posted along with warning words.

The next day a picture of a building on fire was posted on it along with threats of harm and when he researched further online he found Humberstone, using two other accounts, had also sent messages including asking, “Is your smoke alarm fully working?’. Another message included photographs of the front and rear of Mr Alker’s home saying, “I know what is going on in your house” and that he was going to contact the social services and the vice squad.

Four days later he was out with his partner’s baby when he saw Humberstone, whom he recognised from an online photograph, and Humberstone walked past sniggering.

An hour later he saw him walking past the front window of his home four or five times and while out a couple of hours later saw him three times.

The first time Humberstone shouted, “Are your smoke alarms still working because I’m going to pour petrol through your door,” and after verbally abusing him the second time later he shouted, “I have done my homework.”

Humberstone, of Bulteel Road, Worsley Hall, Wigan, pleaded guilty to stalking.

Steven Swift, defending, said that Humberstone has been prescribed anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs and is contact with mental health workers. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after losing members of his family some years ago. “He is now in a more settled state of mind.”

His behaviour had been sparked by the victim returning to the area and again having been in a relationship with Humberstone’s former wife.