A MAN who left a social worker terrified as he carried out a campaign of harassment, threatening her family, has been jailed for five months.
Claude Denham was told he was lucky he wasn't charged with a more serious offence by the judge.
Denham, 26, of Kingsbury Square, Melksham, repeatedly threatened the female member of Wiltshire's Children Safeguarding Team.
Because he was not convicted of the more serious offence of putting a person in fear of violence through harassment, the maximum he could be sentenced to was six months.
Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that Denham and his partner been involved in proceedings at the family court last year, when he was repeatedly abusive and threatening towards the social worker.
In July last year, as he was leaving court, he told her he knew where her daughter worked and that he 'knew people'.
Miss Squire said she called the place of work and arrangements were made to ensure her safety.
In October he threatened her again and the following month he made similar threats towards her to one of her colleagues.
In a victim personal statement the social worker said she was used to getting abuse but that, in seven years doing the job, she had never had her family threatened and leading to safety precautions being put in place, or had such determined abuse.
Denham pleaded guilty to harassment and breaching a conditional discharge for two assaults.
Miss Squire said that the harassment charge he faced, under Section Two of the Act, has a maximum of six months rather than the more serious Section Four, which has a maximum of 10 years.
Cathy Thornton, defending, said that her client was sorry for what he had done during the stress of the court proceedings.
"Under all that he did allow himself to say things he should not have said," she told the court.
The couple are to be moved from the hostel where they have been staying and will move in with his mother, she said, and he has the offer of work from an uncle.
Jailing him Judge Robert Pawson said: "I have no doubt whatsoever it was extremely stressful for you and your partner and would have been a black time in anyone's life.
"However the fact is that as a public servant doing a difficult job for little reward your victim is wholly entitled to get the protection that the law and these courts offer.
"For a reason that is not clear you were charged under Section Two of the Protection from Harassment Act. I tell you this: the maximum sentence I can pass is six months.
"Some might say having heard these facts opened why you weren't charged under Section Four. Had they done I can tell you without any hesitation the sentence would be longer.
"But I don't bring the charges: I just administer the law in front of me. That is a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service."
As well as jailing Denham he also imposed a restraining order banning him from contacting the victim or her family.
Report by WT- Court reporter