‘Vampires’ jailed in Britain

LONDON (AP) — Two self-styled vampires who bombarded a vicar and his family with abusive phone calls, howled in the churchyard and pinned obscene pictures on the church notice board were jailed Friday.

Judge John Boggis sentenced Benjamin Lewis, 25, to 12 months in jail and Scott Bower, 26, to six months’ imprisonment for the religiously motivated harassment of Rev. Christopher Rowberry and his family between October and December last year.

Lewis’s 19-year-old girlfriend, Natalie Gibson, who took part in some of the abuse, was given a three-month jail term suspended for 12 months on condition of good behaviour.

All three, from Totton, southern England, denied the charges but were convicted by a jury last month.

The judge said Lewis was the ringleader and had been responsible for making obscene telephone calls to the vicar’s family which included “howling noises,” screeching sounds and mechanical laughing.

He also placed “truly disgusting” images on the notice boards of Totton’s church of St. Mary the Virgin, the judge said.

“This is a case of repeated victimization of a man who showed you tolerance and understanding, the effect of which was to drive a wedge of fear into his family. The distress of his wife was clear for all to see,” the judge told Lewis.

“I hope you are truly ashamed of what you did but it is clear from the pre-sentence reports that you are not.”

The court heard that Lewis had an “unshakable belief” that he was a vampire and was undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Boggis said Bower had been “manipulated by Lewis but I am sure you knew exactly what you were doing and appreciated the effects you had on your victims.”

The judge issued a restraining order preventing Lewis, Gibson and Bower from approaching anyone in the Rowberry family or entering the vicinity of the church and vicarage.

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