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Single mum’s life ruined by jealous paranoid bully

today14 September 2022 1

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A Derbyshire bully carried out a shocking campaign of paranoid and controlling behaviour on his then girlfriend that led her the mother-of-two to take an overdose in an attempt to end her own life. During the months Joe Clayton dominated the victim’s life told her he would kill her and bury her in the garden if she cheated on him and he monitored where she was through a video-enabled doorbell and a tracking device fitted to her car.

He demanded she stopped going to the gym as he didn’t want other people looking at her, repeatedly accused her of lying to him and asked who she was sending messages to on her mobile phone. He has now been jailed and is getting his first experience of prison.

The brave victim, who was hospitalised following the suicide attempt, fought back tears as she read her own impact statement to the court. She told how the defendant, of Ilkeston, drained all of her confidence from her during the time they were together.

Jailing Clayton for two years, Recorder Michelle Heeley KC said: “She was a single mother and you sought to control her life. She blames herself but she has done nothing wrong and the fact is she took an overdose.

“You are a typical bully, even in your pre-sentence report the author says you are trying to minimise your actions and blame the victim. You were callous with your treatment of her. For many months you treated her appallingly, she read out her own victim personal statement bravely and it is clear that the effect of your behaviour was not just on her.”

Steven Taylor, prosecuting, said Clayton and the victim began a relationship in June 2020 and that he soon moved into her home. He said during it the defendant “sought to control her in various ways. The prosecutor said: “He started tracking her movements to the extent he could monitor her comings and goings though a (video) doorbell on her flat. He made threats on a regular basis threatening to kill her and bury her in her garden.

“He worked as a builder and suggested he would bury her on one of the sites if she cheated on him. He told her not to go to the gym saying he did not want anyone looking at her. She did not want to stop going to the gym because that was her escape but she did.

“He repeatedly accused her of cheating on him, she had a tracking device on her car for her car insurance and she would offer to send him screenshots from it showing him where she had been. He told her the way she dressed would lead to her children being bullied.

“It got to the stage that on April 23, 2021, she took an overdose, leading to her being hospitalised and what makes that all the more tragic is that she was a single parent of two young children.”

Reading out her own victim impact statement to the courtroom, the woman said: “I was terrified he would bury me in my back garden and I just don’t feel safe in my own home any more. I have moved home and moved my children to a new school to feel safer. I was tearful a lot of the time and my mental health suffered thinking ‘what will happen next?’ or whether he would get away with it? I used to be so bubbly but he took all of my confidence away from me and I still look over my shoulder when I leave the house.

“My eldest son has also been affected, he feels angry all the time and feels nervous around people. He is very protective of me.”

Clayton, of Peveril Drive, pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour and has no previous convictions. Kevin Waddingham, his barrister, said his client “accepts that for a lot of months of the relationship he was horrible to her”.

Urging the judge to suspend any prison sentence, he said: “He is adamant that he does not want to challenge the facts and his prevailing wish is to be sentenced today.

He accepts he was the toxicity and he was paranoid about what she was doing. He is a hard-working man, who works long hours and that gives him structure.

“An immediate custodial sentence would bring that employment to an end. He is worth a shot and I would ask you to give him that opportunity.”

Derbyshire police has already successfully applied for a stalking protection order which is similar to a restraining order and which affords the victim similar protection to one, Mr Taylor said.

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