In a move likely to be welcomed by newsrooms around the country, a man who inundated the Bristol Evening Post with abusive and racist telephone calls has been jailed for six months.
Most journalists have to deal with nuisance callers during their career, but for Evening Post deputy editor Stan Szecowka the situation got out of hand. Over a period of several weeks in 2001, he received 60 calls from Gordon Maddocks.
Many of them made reference to Szecowka’s national origin, mistakenly calling him Yugoslav – in fact his family originates from Poland.
Upon returning from a holiday, Szecowka found 24 voicemail messages. One of them said: “I’ve followed you home and I’ll smash all your windows.” Another said: “I hope something happens to you and your family.”
On one occasion, Maddocks threatened to glass Szecowka’s 17-year-old daughter and in another call he said he would throw a brick through the Bristol journalist’s front window. He was so concerned by the threats that he moved his 11-year-old son to sleep in a room at the back of the house.
Maddocks ?rst began abusing Evening Post reporters in 2001 because he believed they were failing to take seriously his concerns about police corruption. Scecowka decided to take all calls from the man himself.
Maddocks, of Broom Hill, Bristol, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment. The protracted case led to Szecowka having to spend ?ve days in court.
Speaking after the sentencing of Maddocks, he said: “I’m pleased that justice has been done and that it is all over. “I’m just glad that the court and judge treated it seriously and journalists know now that, at the end of the day, they can turn to the police when they have a nuisance on their case.
“They know now that if it gets over the top the police will take it seriously.”
By Dominic Ponsford