Radio entertainment and showbiz

Ex-BBC presenter Alex Belfield jailed for five and a half years

Former BBC radio presenter Alex Belfield, who was found guilty of stalking four people including broadcaster Jeremy Vine, has been jailed for five and a half years.

Sentencing him at Nottingham Crown Court, Mr Justice Saini said Belfield’s stalking methods were “just as effective a way of intimidating victims and in many ways much harder to deal with” than “traditional stalking”.

“You made communications which had serious impacts on the private lives of the complaints and had distressing effects on their physical and mental health,” he added.

Belfield was originally charged with stalking eight different people, who were mostly current or former BBC staff.

He was found guilty of offences in relation to two of the complainants – BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith, and videographer Ben Hewis.

For each of these charges, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, to run consecutively.

He was cleared of stalking charges in relation to former BBC Radio Leeds presenters Liz Green and Stephanie Hirst, plus Helen Thomas and the BBC’s former head of North Rozina Breen.

In relation to Jeremy Vine and theatre blogger Philip Dehany, he was found guilty of two lesser offences of “simple” stalking, which does not require serious alarm or distress to be proved.

For each of these offences, he was sentenced to 13 weeks, also to run consecutively.

The judge said Belfield had made “wholly false” allegations about Mr Vine stealing £1,000, had published his home address, and left Mr Vine so worried he had “asked his family to watch out for you”.

The verdicts in relation to each complainant were:

  1. Rozina Breen – not guilty
  2. Liz Green – not guilty
  3. Helen Thomas – not guilty
  4. Stephanie Hirst – not guilty
  5. Bernard Spedding – guilty (majority verdict)
  6. Ben Hewis – guilty (unanimous verdict)
  7. Philip Dehany – not guilty to the charge on the indictment but guilty of the alternative charge of “simple” stalking (majority verdict)
  8. Jeremy Vine – not guilty to the charge on the indictment but guilty of the alternative charge of “simple” stalking (unanimous verdict)

The judge told Belfield he will serve half of his sentence in prison and the remainder on licence.

Restraining orders in relation to all of the complainants, including those he was not convicted of stalking, were also made by the judge.

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