Nightclub boss jailed for online abuse of police officer

A former Scarborough nightclub boss has been jailed for subjecting a female police officer to a sustained campaign of vile online abuse.

Thursday, 16th March 2017, 3:37 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:47 am

Wayne Morriss started posting defamatory and inflammatory statements about the officer after Scarborough Council withdrew his club's operating licence in 2013 after complaints about violence and anti-social behaviour at the premises.

Morriss, who was described at Scarborough Magistrates' Court as the "owner and managing director" of Boleyns in St Thomas Street, went on to make a series of posts about the officer following the decision and was given a harassment warning.

However, this did not stop the 47-year-old and between May and June last year he made a series of posts naming the PC and referring to her as a "pig ****" on his open Facebook page.

Katy Varlow, prosecuting, said that other people joined in on the thread with one person suggesting he "had a loaded gun if [Morriss] really wanted to sort her out".

She added that Morriss' friends also made claims about the PC "working as a prostitute outside of work" on his page.

Despite the evidence of the posts Morriss, of Hilderthorpe Road, Bridlington, denied the charge of harassment without violence but was found guilty following a one-day trial in Scarborough.

At his sentencing hearing today a victim statement from the PC was read out to the court.

In the statement, she told of how people she would meet in the line of duty would bring up the posts and that she became depressed and withdrawn.

Mrs Varlow said: "The PC states that at one point her young child found her in the house looking upset and asked 'is it Mr Morriss again?'"

Sarah Stewart, mitigating, told the court that Morriss was an "unsophisticated" man who had used Facebook to "vent his feelings as he felt he had no other way to release his anger," which he now regrets.

She said that Morriss never directly confronted the PC and made no threats of violence towards her.

Mrs Stewart told the court that Morriss had "huge" debts but still hoped to get the nightclub open again, though she admitted that any custodial sentence would make that very difficult.

She added: "Only during his trial did he realise the impact the posts had had upon [the victim]. He was shocked and he is going to ask a friend to delete them as soon as possible,"

She also told the court that any custodial sentence would send the sound engineer in bankruptcy.

The magistrates were not moved by the arguments and Morriss showed no emotion as he was handed 24 weeks in prison, of which he will serve half.

The court also made an indefinite restraining order forbidding Morriss from contacting or posting anything about the PC online.

He must also pay a £115 surcharge.