Drammens Tidende 26 October 2003
Plaintiff arrested in court
By Herborg Bergaplass
An Englishman who had persecuted a woman from Nedre Eiker for more than 20 years sued her for libel. While in court, he was arrested and charged with severe persecution on the internet.
The 45-year-old man, who made the acquaintance of the woman from Nedre Eiker when she was a young au pair in England, has harassed and persecuted her for 18 years. In the autumn of 2001, he was sentenced to pay a fine of NOK 10,000, which he did not pay. Instead the Englishman sued the woman for libel, because she had told her story to the media. Last week the civil case was heard in the Court of Appeal, but before the Englishman had time to leave the courthouse in Drammen he was arrested. The background for his arrest was new, severe instances of persecution, including allegations posted on the internet.
Withdrew cash to pay fines. The 45-year-old was remanded in custody, where he made a full confession, which opened for sentencing in the court of examination and summary jurisdiction. The man appeared as a repentant sinner, and stated that he understood that he had subjected the woman to a lot of pain.
Erik Stillum, the municipal court judge, felt that a suitable punishment would be eight months' conditional imprisonment, under the following terms: All information about the woman from Nedre Eiker that has been posted on the internet is to be deleted, the web page where the persecution appears shall be removed and the content shall not be republished in any form. Furthermore, the 45-year-old is not permitted to have any form of contact with the woman, nor shall he in any way communicate information about her to third parties (e.g. newspapers). In addition, the man was sentenced to pay a fine of NOK 10,000.
The Englishman accepted the verdict on the spot, and willingly went to a cashpoint machine together with the police and withdrew funds to pay both the new and the old fine, i.e. NOK 20,000 in total, after which he left the country of his own accord. "A reasonable verdict, and a good solution to the whole case," said Svein Duesland, who was appointed defending counsel for the man in the court of examination and summary jurisdiction.
Alteration of terms under consideration. On Friday, the staff of Drammens Tidende accessed the web site, which in no way has been deleted. The harassing content is still there. The Englishman has merely changed the to a fictitious name the real name of the woman from Nedre Eiker, and covered up her eyes on the pictures posted on the internet. Ingunn Hodne, the police lawyer in Søndre Buskerud Police Force, has also noted that the web site is still operative.
"We will consider applying for an alteration of the terms of the judgment. He is already in breach of the terms," says Ms Hodne.
The police lawyer had hoped that the man would give up now, since the regret he showed in court represented a change of tone. If a petition is lodged to have the judgment altered, Ms Hodne will claim that he be sentenced to unconditional imprisonment. The man will then be summoned to a main hearing via the British police, and will be ordered to appear in court. If he fails to do so, a judgment by default may be delivered. According to Ms Hodne, it will be decided whether a request will be issued for his extradition from the UK to attend the main proceedings in Norway, or whether the case will be transferred to England for sentencing there.
"If he is in breach of the terms of the judgment, the case can be brought before the court for alteration. However, I cannot ascertain whether the terms have been breached," says advocate Svein Duesland.
Last updated: 26 October 2003 23:42