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Bulger smear man's life 'in danger'

A man who falsely accused his neighbour of being one of James Bulger's killers has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Spencer Payne, 44, posted the message saying child killer Robert Thompson was living in a flat above his in Parsons Field, Dedham, Essex, following an ongoing row over a parking space.

Payne admitted sending an offensive electronic message at an earlier hearing at Colchester Magistrates' Court and had been warned he could face jail.

But on Wednesday he was given a 12-week sentence suspended for a year. He must also carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and was made subject to a restraining order.

Prosecutor Sharon Hall told the court that victim Gregory Filby had been left terrified to leave the house and unable to sleep at night for fear of vigilante attacks.

The message gave the precise address and said: "Convicted paedophile Robert Thompson is living in hiding with his wife and baby in the flat upstairs."

Mrs Hall said an off-duty police officer saw the message and reported it. Payne agreed to delete it within 24 hours.

She added: "In a victim impact statement he said he feared for his wife and baby's safety. He was embarrassed to leave the house and was worried he might be stabbed or shot by somebody who believed the message."

Mr Filby was not at home on Wednesday but his wife said the family were looking to move elsewhere. Raif Piggot, in mitigation, said Payne suffered from schizophrenia. He added: "This was a neighbourhood dispute which spiralled out of control."

Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, both 10 at the time, were jailed in 1993 for the kidnap and murder of two-year-old James Bulger in Bootle, near Liverpool. Both have been given new identities since their release on life-long licence in 2001. Court orders prevent anybody from revealing their true identities.


From Belfast Telegraph