'Bitter' Dunedin man's campaign of harassment against his family

A Dunedin man carried out an unrelenting, anonymous campaign of abuse against family members for nearly two years, a court has heard.

The defendant, whose name was suppressed to protect the victims, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after admitting a charge of harassment.

The court heard the man, aged in his 40s, became resentful in 2018 over the resolution of a family matter.

He found an outlet for his simmering frustration in 2021 by using a "burner phone" to bombard the victims with offensive messages.

Some of the texts contained derogatory descriptions of the couple’s child.

The defendant levelled accusations of sexual abuse and implied they had been involved in criminal activity.

Months later, he stepped it up.

The man used social media accounts in false names on which he posted photos of the victims in their driveway.

"This gave the victims the impression that an unknown person was watching them from neighbouring addresses," a police summary said.

While they suspected the defendant was responsible, they were unable to prove it.

Shortly afterwards, the man left a bike at their home with a cryptic note attached to it then posted photographs of it on social media, implying it was stolen property.

"The victims became even more concerned for their safety as the offender clearly knew where they lived and was brazen enough to enter on to their property," court documents said.

The abusive text messages continued and in January last year, the defendant targeted the male victim’s car.

While it was parked outside the man’s workplace, he urinated on the door.

Two months later he threw eggs at it.

When he was finally confronted by police he admitted the vitriolic campaign.

He said he had wanted the victims to know how he felt.

Counsel Gordon Paine said his client was "extremely remorseful" but those on the end of the long-running abuse were not convinced.

"They consider you a bitter man. Neither has confidence your behaviour will stop in the long term," Judge Emma Smith said.

"They reject your remorse knowing, they say, how you operate."

The defendant had not been before the court for 20 years and Mr Paine said it was unlikely he would ever be back in the dock.

Judge Smith stressed the seriousness of the harassment.

"It was designed to cause the maximum amount of distress to your victims. You planned carefully how you'd do it and you were unrelenting and uncaring for their circumstances," she said.

The defendant was sentenced to four months’ community detention and 275 hours’ community work.

Protection orders were granted in favour of the victims.