A “cowardly predator” who cyber-stalked a disabled campaigner against online abuse has been jailed.
Nicky Wright, 39, of Lewisham, south London, was convicted of stalking Nicola Brookes from Brighton.
Despite never meeting Ms Brookes, Wright trolled her, wrote defamatory blogs and created disturbing images of her, Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard.
Wright handed himself in after he was convicted in his absence and was sentenced on Wednesday.
Magistrates jailed him for six months and issued a restraining order to protect Ms Brookes.
District Judge Amanda Kelly described his stalking as “about as serious as it can get”.
She described him as a “cowardly predator” who hid behind the anonymity of the internet to wage a “sinister and deeply personal campaign”.
And she said: “I find you deliberately chose not to come to court because you lacked the courage to face your victim in the flesh.”
Ms Brookes’s victim impact statement revealed how Wright used 28 Twitter and 25 Facebook accounts as well as blogs, online radio and video channels to target her from June 2016 to September last year.
She said he doctored comments she made, made sexually suggestive comments and posted hate mail.
Ms Brooks said the ordeal shattered her faith in human nature, caused her Crohn’s disease to flare up and left her feeling like a “sitting duck”.
During the hearing, Wright, who had used the social media alias “Prickly Finger”, complained the press were in court and he did not want “certain information going everywhere online”, before pleading guilty to failing to attend the trial.
He said he missed the trial because he overslept, sat with his fingers in his ears during the sentencing and stuck two fingers up as he was led to the cells.
After the hearing, Ms Brookes called for tougher punishments for stalkers and said she did not believe his sentence would stop him targeting her or someone else when he leaves jail.
She called on social media sites to do more to stop trolls and also criticised how police handled the case.
“It should not have taken three years and 12 different officers for the case to come to court,” she said.
“The onus is on the victim to prove the crime and gather evidence. I was sending officers around 150 screenshots a day of his persistent behaviour.”
She added: “I repeatedly reported his comments to Facebook and Twitter but they said it did not breach their standards.”
In 2012, Ms Brookes brought a landmark civil action against Facebook to have the identities of previous online abusers revealed to her.