A Scarborough minister and her husband were sent letters accusing them of worshipping “the Devil” by a local man, a court heard on Monday.
York Crown Court was told that George Eves had previously sent similar material to a member of the minister’s congregation at the Westborough Spiritualist Church and was therefore in breach of a community order imposed for that offending.
Eves, a 57-year-old former local businessman, sent the Rev Pat Cemm, and her husband Simon, letters claiming that they were “not following Christ”, had “sold out to the Devil”, “talking to the Devil” and “practising dark arts”.
The first of the letters, which were received at the church on December 5, last year, also contained material lifted off the internet.
A second batch of letters, this time accusing the couple of “speaking to demons” and “swearing allegiance to the Devil”, arrived for the couple on January 3, this year, four days after Eves had been interviewed about the first - although it was accepted that they had been sent before his arrest.
Matthew Stephenson, prosecuting, told the court that Eves, of St Mary’s Walk, Scarborough, had previously sent similar letters to local woman Karen Williams, broke into her home and stole photographs.
For that offending Eves was placed under a community order, but, after breaching a restraining order also imposed by the courts to keep him away from Mrs Williams, he was placed under a more onerous order in October, last year.
Eves appeared before the court on Monday for sentencing, having previously admitted a charge of religiously aggravated harassment.
He told arresting police officers that he had not been attacking the minister’s religious beliefs, but trying to help them by steering them away from “following the Devil and doing what they were doing”.
Taryn Turner, mitigating, said that her client’s life had gone downhill in recent times, he once being a married family man with his own business, but now unemployed, with health problems and unable, due to falling house values, to sell up and move away from the area.
Adding that Eves had spent four-and-a-half months in custody before being released to live at a bail address in Hull, Mrs Turner said that a proposed exclusion zone, preventing her client entering a portion of the Scarborough seafront and the castle headland, was excessive.
Mrs Turner said that Eves now realized that what he had been doing was wrong and, being frightened of returning to prison, was determined that he would not do it again.
Warning Eves to “keep yourself to yourself” in the future, The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, sentenced him to a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Placing Eves under two years supervision, Judge Ashurst imposed a five year restraining order, preventing him contacting all his previous victims and ordering him to stay out of certain areas of Scarborough. The prosecution had asked for an indefinite order.