Ex-DJ stalker who trolled hosts including Jeremy Vine sent 'avalanche of hatred'

File photo dated 5/7/2022 of former BBC local radio DJ Alex Belfield who has been found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court of four stalking charges against broadcasters including Jeremy Vine. Issue date: Friday August 5, 2022.
Former BBC local radio DJ Alex Belfield has been jailed for stalking offences. (PA) (PA)

A former BBC DJ who stalked presenters "weaponised the internet" in a campaign against broadcasters including Jeremy Vine.

Alex Belfield, 42, who formerly worked as a presenter for BBC Radio Leeds, was labelled as the "Jimmy Savile of trolling” after waging a relentless stalking campaign.

Jurors convicted Belfield of four charges committed between 2012 and 2021, with the trial being told BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith was left feeling suicidal after receiving hate.

It was also accepted he caused serious alarm or distress to two victims and was found guilty of “simple” stalking in relation to Vine, a Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter, and theatre blogger Philip Dehany.

The offence does not require serious alarm or distress to be proved.

Read more: Ex-BBC DJ jailed for stalking Jeremy Vine and others during campaign of hate

Jeremy Vine leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London after a hearing in his High Court defamation fight with a former local radio presenter who operates a YouTube channel. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Jeremy Vine was among those targeted. (PA) (PA)

The judge said Belfield had made "wholly false" allegations about Mr Vine stealing £1,000, had published his home address, and left Mr Vine so scared he had "asked his family to watch out" for Belfield.

Describing watching Belfield’s video output as like swimming in sewage, Mr Vine said of Belfield’s conduct: “It felt like I had a fish hook in my face and my flesh was being torn, and the only way to avoid further pain was to stay completely still.”

Read more: Ex-BBC local radio DJ jailed for five years for stalking Jeremy Vine and other broadcasters

Mr Justice Saini, sentencing, told Belfield, who was sat taking notes in the court dock: “Your offences are so serious, only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

He added a pre-sentence report showed while Belfield “fully acknowledges the distress to victims” it also “highlights you still appear to focus on the impact on you and feel in certain respects you’ve been unfairly treated”.

The judge told Belfield that while not “traditional stalking”, “your methods were just as effective a way of intimidating victims and in many ways much harder to deal with.”

He added there was “no escape” for Belfield’s victims, until bail conditions were imposed ahead of his trial and agreed with Mr Vine’s characterisation the ex-DJ had “weaponised the internet” against those he targeted.

The judge told Belfield he will serve half of his sentence in prison and the remainder on licence, and made restraining orders in relation to all of the complainants, including those he was not convicted of stalking.