Gang jailed for campaign of attacks against Norwich couple falsely accused of being paedophiles
A gang abused a couple for more than a year and drove them from their home after falsely accusing them of being paedophiles.
The couple, who can not be named for legal reason, were targeted in a long campaign in which rocks were thrown at their windows, faeces were smeared across their door, and maggots posted through their letterbox.
Glue was also poured in their door lock while foam and paint was sprayed across the front of their home in Langley Walk off Old Palace Road in west Norwich.
Yesterday, Norwich Crown Court heard how Kevin Howes, who lived in their street, orchestrated the campaign of misery against them.
He admitted conspiracy to commit criminal damage, after police linked phone calls and text messages from his mobile to the men responsible for the attacks.
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Alongside Howes in the dock was Spencer Bowgen, who has a long history of offending.
He admitted two of charges of criminal damage.
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Bowgen threw a rock through the couple's window and poured white paint on the door of the home in September last year.
The 26-year-old of Devonshire Street, Norwich, also admitted stealing an iPad from Virgin Money lounge in Castle Street.
He was jailed for 17 months while Howes was imprisoned for 18 months.
In a statement to the court the woman described how the campaign had made her life a misery.
She said: 'A long time ago we used to be friends with Howes. We have no idea why he turned on us and caused us four years of hell.'
The woman had to go to the doctors to be treated for stress from the relentless attacks.
Robert Warner, prosecuting, told the court of a 'sustained campaign of attacks'.
The couple would frequently return from their caravan on the Norfolk coast to find their home had been vandalised.
They complained to police who installed a CCTV camera to watch the home.
On September 4 they caught Bowgen on CCTV at 11.30pm throwing a rock through the front window. Five minutes later he sent a text to Howes asking him to ring him.
On September 6 Bowgen was caught at 10.30pm throwing white paint from a jar at the home.
The harassment also included text messages reading, 'you are both getting it you dirty child abusers'.
But the court heard there was no evidence to back the paedophile accusation.
Mr Warner said Howes was in the background of the offences and directed the men who pleaded guilty to criminal damage.
Michael Clare, mitigating, said Bowgen's crimes were related to a drinking problem, but he said he was now looking to find work and do the best for his family.
Mr Clare said Howes, 55, a grandfather, was in court 'to face the music'.
He said: 'As a grandfather he ought to know better.
'He knows he only has himself to blame.
'As far as he is concerned this business is finished.'
Recorder of Norwich, judge Peter Jacobs blasted the men's behaviour as 'cowardly'.
He said: 'The affect on the couple has been devastating.'
Judge Jacobs told Howes: 'You made their lives hell.
'There was not a day when they could come home with any peace of mind at all.
'They were always aware that people were watching them, waiting for them to go out.'
In April and May other members of the group were jailed for a total of two-and-a-half years after admitting criminal damage.
Shaun Claxton, 50, of Shorncliffe Close, Norwich, was jailed for nine months, Neil Smith, 44, of Shorncliffe Close for nine months and David Cullingford, 53, of Devonshire Street for a year.