A former local BBC radio DJ has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for harassing broadcasters, including Jeremy Vine, who was subjected to an “avalanche of hate”.
Alex Belfield has waged a relentless campaign of harassment against journalists, with Vine calling him the “Jimmy Savile of trolling” after he repeatedly posted or sent abusive messages, videos and emails.
Belfield, 42, was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court in a trial last month of four criminal harassment charges, committed between 2012 and last year.
Jurors agreed he caused serious concern or distress to two victims and was found guilty of ‘simple’ harassment in relation to Vine, a Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter, and theater blogger Philip Dehany.
BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith felt suicidal by a “tsunami of hate”, according to the lawsuit.
Sentencing judge Judge Saini told Belfield, who was sitting in the dock taking notes: “Your offenses are so serious that only a custodial sentence can be warranted.”
Vine also testified against Belfield, telling jurors, “He’s not a regular troll here. It’s the Jimmy Savile of trolling.
Describing how watching the Belfield video release was like swimming in sewage, Mr Vine said of the defendant’s conduct: ‘I felt like I had a hook in my face and my flesh was torn, and the only way to avoid further pain was to remain completely still.
The judge said a pre-sentence report showed that while Belfield “fully acknowledges the plight of the victims”, it “also points out that you still seem to be focused on the impact on you and that you believe in some ways that you have been unfairly treaty”.
He told Belfield, of Mapperley, Nottingham, that while the offenses weren’t considered traditional harassment, “your methods were just as effective in intimidating victims and in many ways much more difficult to deal with” .
He said there was no escape for the victims of Belfield until bail conditions were imposed before his trial.
He agreed with Vine’s characterization that the ex-DJ had “weaponized the internet” against those he was targeting.
He also ordered that indefinite restraining orders be issued against Belfield, barring him from contacting his victims and four other people.
Additional reports per AP
. former BBC Alex Belfield imprisoned for having harassed Jeremy Vine other broadcasters