An Essex councillor has been spared jail over breaching a court order banning him from seeing a woman, which left her in “constant dread”.
Chrisy Morris has been handed unpaid work and £500 in costs for breaching the non-molestation order against a woman in 2019.
But Morris, who sat as an independent Maldon district councillor for Heybridge, insisted to Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday that he was “not the monster” that he was being perceived as.
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He had previously stood trial having denied the offence, which happened on July 22, 2019, along with another count of breaching a restraining order in January 2020 against the same woman.
The court heard that the woman, her partner and children had moved out of Maldon to a new address in Witham the day before.
Despite the court order banning Morris from visiting any address he knew the woman to be at, she witnessed him driving by in his car the day after moving in as she unpacked clothes in her bedroom.
After she called her partner to return to the home, they both witnessed him walking by the front door, around five metres from the property.
Morris denied knowing the woman had moved there and said he was visiting a friend, but couldn’t find his home and left.
But the jury did not believe this and convicted Morris unanimously. They acquitted him on the other count of breaching a restraining order.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the woman described the distress caused by Morris.
She said: “I live in dread, constantly worrying about the next thing to happen. It’s not an issue of if, it’s when.
“It’s made me have sleepless nights. I feel worried when I go out.
“He will be keeping an eye on me or manipulating friends of his to do so.”
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The woman added that she felt Morris’ actions were a message from him to tell them he knew where they lived.
Morris, who represented himself throughout the trial and sentence, said that he was a working man who earned £5,000 a year as a district councillor, topped up by Universal Credit, with no savings.
He said: “I am not the monster that the prosecution is trying to make me out to be.
“I’m a single dad, 47-years-old, I work, I love my children, I love my family, I have some health concerns and I have put the appeal in.”
Morris previously told the court he intended to appeal his conviction.
Judge Timothy Walker told Morris he had caused “very serious harm” to the woman by his actions, giving him eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours unpaid work, 30 days rehabilitation and ordered Morris to pay £500 in prosecution costs.
Despite objections from Morris, Judge Walker also imposed a five-year restraining order preventing Morris from contacting the woman and her partner, going to their address, and talking about them on social media.
The judge said: “I am satisfied that they need a restraining order to protect from harassment or fear of violence.”
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