A NEWBURY man who terrorised the woman who wrongly accused him of sexual assault has been jailed.
Last year a jury found Liam Mason, of The Oaks, not guilty of sexually assaulting her.
But, by then, the false allegation had already cost the 31-year-old his job as a fork-lift truck driver.
And so, late one night, after drinking heavily, he stormed round to the woman's house and began banging on the window so hard she and her mother thought it would smash.
Mike Mason, prosecuting, told Reading Crown Court on Thursday, June 29, that, as he hammered on the glass, Mason repeatedly swore while screaming: “Open the door – I’m going to get you. Watch your step because I’m going to kill you. Be careful when you go out on your own. I’m going to have you – I’m not kidding.”
As they cowered inside, expecting the glass to shatter any second, the pair dialled 999 and Mason was arrested.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the woman said the incident had ruined her life, that she had had to give up work because she was now terrified of men and felt suicidal.
She added: “I suffer greatly with sleepless nights or nightmares involving Liam.
“I’m terrified of what he will do next. “He’s been telling everyone he won’t let it go. I’ve been physically shaking and unable to breathe.
“I’ve lost my confidence and have to have someone with me at all times.
“I constantly check the doors and windows to make sure they’re locked.”
The woman’s mother said in a statement that, since the incident: “I can’t sleep at night and don’t like people walking near, or behind, me.”
Mr Mason reminded the court of the need to “protect the integrity of the criminal justice system” and added that the defendant’s actions were “clearly premeditated”.
Mason initially denied threatening to take revenge on his accuser by making verbal threats to her on April 15 last year, but changed his plea to guilty on the day the trial was due to take place.
In addition he has one previous conviction for fraud and two for breaching the consequent court orders, the judge was told.
Kellie Enever, defending, said her client had suffered greatly as a result of the sex assault charge, despite his eventual acquittal.
She said his boss had dismissed him from his forklift driving job, telling him: “We’ve got women that work here – you can’t continue.”
The trial had strained Mason’s relationship with his partner, said Ms Enever and he lost friends.
She added: “People think: ‘There’s no smoke without fire.’
“The consequences for him were far-reaching and they continue to this day.
“He just didn’t think of the consequences of his actions that night.”
Judge Angela Morris told Mason: “Accused of a sexual assault, you allowed the criminal justice system to take its course and, at the end of it, you were acquitted.
“That should have been the end of it. Unfortunately, it was not.
“You took it upon yourself to go to the house and bang on the door and windows and make verbal threats to kill her and warn her to be careful because you were going to get her.”
Judge Morris said she had taken into consideration the fact that this was an impulsive act born out of drunken frustration.
However, she added: “If anyone should have known that they cannot take the law into their own hands, it should have been you, Mr Mason.
“People must understand that if they do choose to take the law into their own hands before, during or after the criminal trial process is concluded, then the rule of law and the criminal justice system would collapse.”
Mason was jailed for 12 months and ordered to pay a statutory victim services surcharge of £140.