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Churchgoer sent death threats to friend

PUBLISHED: 13:33 17 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:42 03 July 2010

A CHURCHGOER sent death threats to a female friend he met through a church group after he started suffering seizures, a court heard.

Clive Getliff, 50, sent Julie Barton, his friend of eight years, 41 aggressive text messages over a three day period, some of which said he was outside her house and was going to kill her.

A YOUNG mum has spoken of how she fled her flat in fear after receiving death threats from a Great Yarmouth man she had befriended.

Julie Barton, 31, said she got into her car and drove off after Clive Getliff, 50, sent her 41 aggressive phone texts during a three day period in February.

Getliff, of Albany Road, became angry after he failed to contact her when he felt a seizure coming on. She had offered to help him when he started suffering seizures during their six year friendship, which began while she was living in North Quay in Yarmouth.

The texts warned her he was outside her house and was going to kill her.

“I fled from my flat in my car because I was afraid of him coming to my door,” Miss Barton said.

She said at one point she became so fearful she would panic every time she heard her neighbour's door bang, but when she received a text from Getliff saying he was going to be at her house in 10 minutes she arranged to meet the police in a nearby road.

Later, the police traced the texts to Getliff's phone.

But the pair had previously had a blossoming friendship after being introduced through a mutual friend and Getliff had helped her with repair jobs she needed doing, such as to her mobile phone.

She regularly visited his rented home to listen to music and watch television and had even tried to convert him to her Christian faith.

Miss Barton said: “He was quiet and kept himself to himself. He was all so helpful and a bit of a gadget man. He loves fixing things. If ever I had got something that needed fixing, like a mobile, I would take it to him.”

Getliff admitted harassment during an appearance at Norwich Magistrates Court, which heard how he became frustrated after trying to contact Miss Barton when he felt a seizure coming on. His frustration led him to send the abusive text messages.

Ben Brighouse, prosecuting, said: “On February 18, police were called to the victim's address, and the victim had left her home because she was in fear, so made arrangements to meet the police in a nearby road.

“She did not know why she was receiving these text messages, and said it was totally out of character and that she had thought they were friends. She now feels frightened and uneasy about returning home.”

In mitigation, Heather Little said Getliff had apologised via text message to Mrs Barton before his arrest, and added that he had no previous convictions of a similar nature.

She said: “These seizures have been going on for the last three-and-a-half years and the last seizure he had was in the last couple of months, when he collapsed in a public place and was taken to the James Paget University Hospital. Doctors have not been able to tell him what is behind them, which has put him under a great deal of stress and anxiety.

“This poor lady was in the wrong place at the wrong time with regards to him having an outlet for the frustration caused by his seizures.”

District Judge Philip Browning gave Getliff a 16-week sentence to be suspended over 18 months, as well as ordering him to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was also told to pay £60 costs to be deducted from his benefits, while an indefinite restraining order was put in place banning him from having any contact with Mrs Barton.

He said: “These text messages must have been terrifying to the lady in question.”


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