A “poisonous” ex-girlfriend sent herself threats from fake Instagram accounts to get an innocent man locked up. Courtney Ireland-Ainsworth created up to 30 false profiles, then told police her former partner Louis Jolly was behind “vile” messages.
The “cunning” teenager reported him for supposedly threatening to stab her and warning: “She is getting a f***ing blade in her chest.” She made 10 police statements claiming Mr Jolly was harassing and stalking her, leading to him being arrested six times and spending 81 hours in custody, including being remanded overnight.
He was charged with assault and stalking, hit with a stalking protection order, bailed on a home curfew with an electronic tag, and even lost his job. Recorder Ian Harris today told Ireland-Ainsworth: “You created an entirely fictional but superficially credible web of poisonous deceit for over five months.”
Mr Jolly, 22, said they were together for two years but split up on “okay terms” in October 2019, before Ireland-Ainsworth started seeing a new boyfriend, a man called Declan Rice. Liverpool Crown Court heard Ireland-Ainsworth, now 20, of Brackendale, Runcorn, then began her “deliberate and malevolent lies”. Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, said she made numerous calls to police from July 15 to December 13, 2020, and provided screenshots of messages and the names of Instagram accounts, which she attributed to her victim.
Her 10 police statements led to Mr Jolly repeatedly being arrested between September 5 and December 14 – on one occasion kept in custody overnight to appear in court – despite him always maintaining his innocence.
The court heard Ireland-Ainsworth alleged Mr Jolly:
– Called her from withheld numbers;
– Stalked her, her friends and her new partner;
– Filmed her walking down the street and sent her the video;
– Verbally and physically abused her;
– Made false claims she was using cocaine;
– Smashed items in her house and put a brick through her nan’s window;
– Threatened to stab her and her boyfriend
Recorder Harris said: “You stated after he had been arrested the stalking became worse.
“You provided images of damage to property and you yourself, as to where you said he knifed you with a Stanley knife, and there was a scar on your chest.”
In her fourth statement on October 21, she claimed he’d told Mr Rice online: “Wait til I see her, she is getting a f***ing blade in her chest fully this time.”
Ireland-Ainsworth’s mum rang police on November 15, saying Mr Jolly had threatened to stab her online.
Detectives made a request for data from Facebook, which owns Instagram, but Mr Blasbery said “this data took some time to be released to the police”.
Mr Jolly was hit with an interim stalking protection order on December 4, and bailed for six weeks with an electronically tagged home curfew, between 7pm and 7am daily.
Ireland-Ainsworth accused him of breaching the order and her mum called police on December 13 to report this.
However, when police received the data from Facebook, it showed at least 17 Instagram accounts created using two of Ireland-Ainsworth’s email addresses and IP addresses connected to her home and mobile phone.
She was arrested and interviewed on December 12, 2020, when she confessed, before the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued stalking and assault allegations against Mr Jolly.
Mr Blasbery said: “She attempted to minimise during that interview what she had done. She eventually admitted it.
“She stated her ex-boyfriend Mr Jolly was hassling her, but in order to make the police believe it she sent false messages to the police so that they would take it seriously.”
Ireland-Ainsworth, who had no previous convictions, admitted perverting the course of justice.
Recorder Harris noted in a pre-sentence report she was “blaming the victim in some respects”, but now abandoned those claims.
Jim Smith, defending, said his client was 19 at the time, immature and diagnosed as suffering from “complex” post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He said a psychiatrist found her offending could be “partly understood” in the context of her mental health problems and difficulty in “managing intimate personal relationships”.
Mr Smith said the PTSD arose from “severe trauma” when Ireland-Ainsworth was a child, and a probation officer stated it affected her decision making.
He said: “She would have handled that breakdown [in the relationship] substantially differently than any other individual who was not subject to a mental disorder.”
The lawyer added: “This is a defendant who was extremely vulnerable during the currency of her criminality and tried to take her life on Christmas Day 2020… someone who was, and is, in need of substantial support and rehabilitation.”
Mr Smith said Ireland-Ainsworth worked at DHL Supply Chain and was a “very respected member of that team” and “loved and respected” by family and friends.
He suggested her personal difficulties amounted to “exceptional circumstances” and the judge could spare her jail.
Mr Smith concluded: “The defendant and her family are truly sorry for what has occurred in this case.”
Recorder Harris told Ireland-Ainsworth he was going to send her to prison, as she started crying in the dock.
He said her allegations “all of them untrue” had an “absolutely shattering effect” on the victim and his family.
The judge said: “He’s become a shell of the man he used to be.”
Recorder Harris told Ireland-Ainsworth: “You in my judgement involved your boyfriend Declan Rice and your mother and grandmother in making statements to the police… you involved them in your dishonesty.”
He continued: “You had made a catalogue of assertions in order to get Mr Jolly into serious trouble – calculated to lead to criminal sanctions and a loss of his liberty.
“I find a lot of thought and planning went into this criminal enterprise, which had hallmarks of sophistication and cunning about it.
“Even after you were arrested and charged, you continued to make derogatory assertions against Mr Jolly.”
Recorder Harris added: “In the pre-sentence report you admitted messaging yourself from 20 to 30 fake Instagram accounts that you set up.
“You said, I quote, ‘you wanted to hurt Mr Jolly and you didn’t see that your actions were selfish’.”
The judge noted references from her employer and friends said she was “helpful, kind and hardworking”.
But he said: “You persisted in deliberate and malevolent lies for five months. You wasted police time and resources…
“You caused untold emotional harm to a completely innocent man and his family. He suffered anguish for months.”
Recorder Harris reduced Ireland-Ainsworth’s sentence because of her mental health difficulties and gave her full credit for her guilty plea.
Locking her up for 10 months and making a 10-year restraining order, he added: “I extend considerable sympathy to the Jolly family for what they have had to suffer at your hands.”