Mr Love imprisoned disabled admirer in dark room after months of abuse

Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.

A man imprisoned a disabled admirer inside his dark living room when she refused to give him money to top-up his electricity.

Craig Love had led on his victim, who he knew was "fond of" him, and taken advantage of her cash hand outs and kindness for years.

Newcastle Crown Court heard when the woman refused to provide money for him to feed his electric top-up card in March, he trapped her in his living room for half an hour.

The court heard the terrified victim was unable to shout or scream for help due to her health condition and was prisoner until he let her out.

Love, 24, had warned the woman she could "stay there all night until she found a way to pay for some electricity" but freed her after around thirty minutes.

Prosecutor Mark Guiliani told the court: "The lights were turned were turned off, the door to the living room shut.

"She described being absolutely terrified, terrified to do anything.

"Because of an operation when she was five or six months old, she needs oxygen four times per day.

"She has a narrow windpipe and cannot scream nor shout. She had no means of attracting the attention of neighbours.

"She said she was just sat there in the dark waiting and hoping he would let her out.

"She described being fearful for her safety."

The court heard after half an hour Love let the woman out of the room and said "see how it feels?"

During her time at the house the victim was also grabbed by Love's then girlfriend, who was dealt with by magistrates for common assault.

Love, of Cheviot Road, South Shields, admitted false imprisonment.

Ms Recorder Susan Taylor told him: "She was very fond of you and over the course of many months, if not years, you have taken advantage of that affection, you have led her on, you have abused her friendship, taken money from her.

"You left her alone in the dark which, given her physical condition, if she had panicked, the situation could have been an awful lot more grave for her and for you.

"She must have been very frightened indeed because she had no idea when you were going to return."

The judge sentenced Love to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours unpaid work and programme requirements.

Love was made the subject of a restraining order to stay away from his victim for two years.

Vic Laffey, defending, said: "It is conceded he had clearly taken advantage of this young lady's affection for him."

Mr Laffey said it was a "mean" offence and Love had not realised now serious his behaviour was.