Internet troll jailed for harassing missing girl’s family

LEGAL PLEA ... Richard Lee with a picture of his missing daughter, Katrice.
LEGAL PLEA ... Richard Lee with a picture of his missing daughter, Katrice.

AN internet troll from the North East who posed as a missing girl and then broke a court order by harassing the family has been jailed.

Donna Wright, 34, of Oak Terrace, West Cornforth, County Durham, was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison yesterday after earlier admitting harassing Hartlepool man Richard Lee, whose two-year-old daughter Katrice vanished from a Naafi store in Germany, in November 1981.

Wright appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court yesterday after she admitted breaking a restraining order and calling Mr Lee by phone.

After the case, Mr Lee, 64, said Wright looked “shocked” when detention officers appeared and placed handcuffs on her. He said: “It was lovely to see. From that perspective I feel good, but I still feel there’s no end to it.”

Mr Lee read out a victim impact statement in court in which he described Wright as a “thoroughly nasty and evil person”.

Wright was last year sentenced to a 12-week jail term, suspended for 18 months, for harassing Katrice’s mother, Sharon, in Gosport, Hampshire, and Katrice’s sister, Natasha.

Wright turned nasty after a DNA test proved she was not the missing girl, and sent spiteful messages over Facebook.

She then admitted also harassing Mr Lee after conclusive phone records were produced.

On December 2, last year, she rang him at 11.45pm and several times after that, despite a restraining order to prevent her from contacting the family.

In his statement, Mr Lee told of Wright’s “prolonged and persistent” harassment over a three-year period.

He said: “This has continued for a period of three years and to be targeted by Miss Wright, who I have to say I feel to be a thoroughly nasty and evil person, has magnified this ordeal and sufficient action needs to be taken to ensure closure.”

He used his statement to plead for the legal system to come down harder on people who abuse social media, and said Wright had indirectly hampered the search for Katrice, as the Search for Katrice Lee Facebook page had had to be given restricted access due to her actions.

Wright admitted the offence last month but the case had been adjourned for sentencing to allow for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports to be produced.

Viv Waugh, defending, said Wright had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, may have a personality disorder and is undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Wright was jailed for eight weeks but would serve a total of 14 weeks for breaching last year’s suspended sentence.

Twitter: @shieldsgaz