Work accident triggered 27 years of harassment, court hears

Posted On 13 May 2021 at 2:59 pm

A man who ended up paralysed after a fall at work went on to harass colleagues he blamed for his injuries for 27 years, a court heard this morning.

Geoffrey Rigden, now 54, was in his late twenties when he fell down stairs at a Harvester restaurant in 1994. Four colleagues moved him into a chair but he fell out of it, hitting his head again.

He ended up temporarily paralysed and had to spend many weeks in hospital. He hasn’t worked since.

He has since bombarded those colleagues with messages and threats, blaming them for the injuries which have blighted his life.

A harassment notice in 2005 temporarily stopped the campaign – but in 2019, he sent the first of three threatening letters to one of the colleagues, Ross McGregor, which were opened by his mother Anne.

Today, he appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court where he admitted three charges of sending a threatening letter.

Prosecuting, Martina Sherlock said Rigden, of Cromwell Road, Hove, sent the first letter in December 2019, the second in May last year and the third in August.

The first letter told Ross McGregor he was moving back to Kent very soon.

It went on: “You can’t run any more.

“I may be blind in my left and and deaf in my left ear and you think it’s fine because you are sick.

“I haven’t forgotten, see you soon, your victim.”

The second accused Ross and three other colleagues of picking him up and putting him on the chair. It said: “I have dealt with Martin, it’s just you three to go.”

It ended: “This is no joke, your victim. I’m not letting it go, never.”

The third said: “Ross, I want to meet face to face, just you and me. Phone me to make a date for the future.

“If I have not heard from you by Thursday I will drive up to you. You have a choice, if you make the wrong choice, you will regret it.”

It then gave Rigden’s mobile phone number, and was signed “your victim”.

Mrs McGregor took the letter to police, and Rigden was arrested. He said he had no recollection of sending the first two letters but said he had immediately regretted sending the third.

Ms Sherlock said: “He said he was lied to by Ross McGregor and says he should be accountable for his injuries.

“He’s sent letters and made multiple phonecalls to be a nuisance and to scare them.”

In a victim impact statement, Mrs McGregor said that Rigden’s campaign of harassment had succeeded “spectacularly well” – despite her son moving out of the UK 20 years ago.

She said: “More than 25 years of being stalked by Geoffrey Rigden has taken quite a toll. I became incredibly jumpy.”

She said frequent calls had stopped when BT put a block on the line, but that Rigden still watched the house, which she found “unnerving”.

She said noises late at night were frightening, “not knowing if it’s Rigden approaching to rattle the door or just pushing threatening notes or rubbish through the letterbox.”

She added: “I found it deeply disturbing that he has resumed his campaign.”

Defending, Cathy Walker said Rigden wasn’t aware that Mr McGregor had left the country, and would never have written the letters if he had known.

She said: “Twenty-seven years ago he had an accident at work and colleagues moved him when he had fallen to the bottom of the stairs.

“He had three fractures to his skull and ended up in hospital, initially paralysed from those injuries and spent a significant amount of time in hospital.

“It’s had such an impact on him he hasn’t worked since.”

The hearing was adjourned for probation reports and Rigden will be sentenced at the same court on July 14.

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