Former town councillor guilty of harassment

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A FORMER Winslow town councillor has received a suspended prison sentence for harassing a senior police officer.

Robert Cook, 60, of Tennis Lane, was arrested last September and charged in March with harassment of his former brother-in-law, Simon Chesterman, who is the assistant chief constable of West Mercia Police.

Over a two-year period, Cook sent letters of complaint to the police force about Mr Chesterman’s conduct, and published derogatory articles about Mr Chesterman’s sister – Cook’s ex-wife Nicola – on a website.

He also distributed leaflets about the police officer to his neighbours in a town in Shropshire.

Cook pleaded guilty to the harassment charge and appeared for sentencing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

He was handed a four-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, and a 12-month supervision order.

He is also subject to a restraining order and must obey a 10-week curfew with tag.

He has to pay court costs of £150 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Cook, who was born and bred in Winslow and is a former teacher and college lecturer, is well known in the town as an author of local history books and a guitar teacher.

He was a member of Winslow Town Council for many years and was at one time chairman of the planning committee.

Speaking to the Advertiser yesterday, he said: “When I realised what I’d done, I was appalled. It was madness.

“To say I was appalled is putting it mildly and in that context I feel the sentence was fair.

“I can’t justify what I did. I just cracked over a domestic situation. I became obsessed.”

He said he was ill with depression when the offences were committed, and added: “What happened in relation to my internet writing is all in mist to me.

“I was very upset and angry. I never read what I wrote. When I heard it in court I just wanted to die.

“I did a lot of harm and I have always done my best to be a caring person.”

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: “We note the decision of the court and we regard this case as a personal matter.”