A Sussex University student terrorised a fellow undergraduate during an obsessive and aggressive stalking campaign, a court was told today (Wednesday 13 September).
Humayan Tufail, 22, a law and politics student, was spared prison at Hove Crown Court this morning but then vented angrily before he left court.
Tufail, formerly of Ditchling Road, Brighton, approached Frances Keightley, who was with her boyfriend in a seafront night club, Arch, in August 2021. He mistakenly claimed that they had been at school together.
Edward Hand, prosecuting, said that it marked the start of a persistent and prolonged campaign of electronic stalking which included also contacting Miss Keightley’s family and friends. When he was blocked, he resorted to fake identities and the messages continued.
Mr Hand said: “They were insulting. They were abusive. And there were allegations made towards Miss Keightley that she had acted in a racist way.”
When he was arrested, he blamed Miss Keightley but police reviewed hundreds of pages of abuse and Tufail was charged.
He initially contested the case when it came to court. But he later pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated stalking, causing serious alarm or distress and having a substantial adverse effect on Miss Keightley’s usual day-to-day activities.
She said, in a victim impact statement, that Tufail had left “messages telling me to kill myself, to kill my dog and that I should have been aborted”.
And she said that she constantly had to explain herself to people in light of the things that Tufail had said and done.
George Dugbo, defending, said that he was a young man with mental health problems but he was remorseful.
The judge, Recorder Quincy Whitaker, said that Tufail’s outrageous conduct was “a campaign of intimidation” intended to terrorise the complainant.
Recorder Whitaker said: “Once she made it clear (in the night club) that she didn’t want to talk to him, that should have been the end of it.
“There’s clearly a lot of work that he’s got to do with his responses to women and anger management … so he doesn’t terrorise women (with) absolutely obsessive behaviour.”
She said: “Whatever provocation you feel you were subject to, there is no justification for embarking on a campaign that was extremely frightening and extremely distressing.”
Tufail had an autistic spectrum disorder but the judge added: “It provides some explanation for your obsessive conduct but it provides no justification. You’re never to have any contact with her ever again.”
Recorder Whitaker made Tufail, who “aspires to enter the legal professon”, the subject of a five-year restraining order.
He is banned from contacting Miss Keightley – directly or indirectly and in person or by other means – and from going anywhere that he could reasonably expect or believe her to be, for example, at home or work or out socially.
Tufail was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and told to complete 25 days of rehabilitation activity.
As the judge left court, Tufail let rip with a brief verbal tirade before being led out by his solicitor and barrister and relatives.