Rachel Riley and Chris Martin cyber troll sectioned and handed restraining order for death threats

Anthony Wells' 8-month campaign included graphic sexual references aimed at the former Strictly Come Dancing contestant

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The Independent Online

A man who sent more than 500 abusive messages including death threats to the Countdown presenter Rachel Riley has been given a restraining order.

Anthony Wells, 31, was told by Basildon Crown Court that he could not contact Riley directly or indirectly for five years after admitting to a charge of harassment against the former Strictly Come Dancing contestant.

The court was also told how Wells had tried to communicate with the Coldplay frontman Chris Martin by sending messages that threatened the lives of the singer's children. However, this was not pursued.

Along with his restraining order, Wells was sectioned under the Mental Health Act after it was found that he had been suffering from bouts of paranoid schizophrenia and many of his tweets had been influenced by “psychotic thinking.”

Sentencing Wells, Judge Davies QC said: “You’re currently in hospital and for the moment that is the right place for you to be. I am going to make a Section 37 hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

“That is an order requiring you to remain in hospital until authorities require otherwise.”

The eight-month trolling campaign against Riley began in October 2012, just months after she had married her now ex-husband Jamie Gilbert.

During that period Wells sent countless disturbing messages to Riley’s Twitter page, including threats to her life and a number of graphic sexual references.

In one particularly alarming message, Wells wrote: “I hope you die forever, I hope you cry forever, I hope you die now. I hope your eyes bleed and your skin dries and your dream dies.

“I hope you fall to the earth like a child lost at birth …

“Dedicated once again to Rachel Annabelle Riley …”

In another sickening post, Wells said that the key to seducing women was “good thermals, good masks, and plenty of duct tape.”

He also accused Riley of paedophilia and posted that she was dying of cancer.

Speaking in court, prosecutor Jamie Sawyer said:  “Effectively what he did was send a persistent series of abusive Twitter messages.

“Around 500 tweets were sent during the time of the indictment. The nature of these messages was always abusive.

“The messages sent to Rachel Riley of course caused her distress. Her personal statement (which was not read out) gives a graphic description of her reaction to the tweets.”

Despite finding evidence of similar messages directed at Coldplay singer Chris Martin, it was decided that harassment charges would not be pursued but instead kept on file.

Punam Malhan, CPS East of England senior district prosecutor said: 'Mr Martin indicated that a plea to the charge involving Ms Riley would be acceptable to ensure that Mr Wells gets the medical help he needs and that he was content for us to not to proceed in relation to the remaining charge.

"Taking Mr Martin’s view into account we decided it was no longer in the public interest to continue with the second charge of harassment and that charge was today left on file.”

Speaking in court, Eleanor Scott, defending, said Wells was still in a “mentally fragile state” but he had pleaded guilty to the charges of harassment against Riley and was “happy to abide by a restraining order.”