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Drunken man who made threats to ex-partner avoids jail

Dale Sunderland received a suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dale Sunderland received a suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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An Ipswich man who subjected his ex-partner to a series of “abusive and menacing” calls and messages while drunk has avoided prison.

Dale Sunderland, 54, of Speedwell Road, was not “able to accept” his relationship with the woman was over, Ipswich Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

Charles Falk, prosecuting, told the court that Sunderland’s relationship with the woman in Essex ended in 2016 and he received a six-week suspended sentence and a restraining order in 2017 following unwanted calls.

When the woman moved to Ipswich in October 2019 because her father was dying, Sunderland got in touch again and was initially “nice and kind” before the “thoroughly unpleasant” drunken abuse began, Mr Falk told the court.

Between December 3 and December 5, 2019, Sunderland made threats to the woman and told her he knew where she lived, the court heard.

“She told him she was recording the calls, but that just made him worse,” Mr Falk said.

On January 4, Sunderland also abused a man who answered the victim’s telephone by swearing and making accusations.

The court heard the calls and messages had “absolutely terrified” the victim and she had suffered from insomnia as a result of Sunderland’s behaviour.

He initially pleaded not guilty to one charge of stalking and a separate count of sending an electronic message with intent to cause distress or anxiety and was released on bail in February this year.

However, Sunderland breached his bail conditions by contacting the woman and was remanded in custody on April 27.

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On June 11, he pleaded guilty to the charge of sending an electronic message with intent to cause distress.

Lynne Shirley, defending, said there was an “unhappy history between the parties”.

Ms Shirley said the victim had engaged with Sunderland although it did not “excuse his behaviour”.

He has since sought help from alcohol rehabilitation charity Turning Point, Ms Shirley told the court.

Sunderland has 13 previous convictions for 17 offences, the court heard.

Prosecutors offered no evidence in relation to the stalking charge and a verdict of not guilty was recorded for that count.

Judge Rupert Overbury described Sunderland as a “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” character.

He said: “You need to wake up and get real about your life.
“When you are not in drink, you are a really nice and caring person, it’s like Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde.

“These offences are clearly underpinned by your dependency on alcohol.”

Sentencing Sunderland to 27 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, the judge warned: “If you put a foot wrong then you will be back in front of me and you will go to prison.”

Sunderland must also complete 35 rehabilitation days, with a two-year alcohol treatment requirement.

He was also given a five-year restraining order.


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