Husband breached restraining order by singing love songs to wife outside her home in Leeds

A husband breached his restraining order by singing love songs to his wife outside her home during a campaign of "emotional blackmail".

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 6:00 am

Retired farmer Paul Lavan also broke the law by posting cuddly toys through the letter box at his former partner's home.

The 58-year-old grandfather began harassing his wife after their 30-year marriage broke down.

A court heard how the couple separated in June 2018 and Lavan's partner moved out of the matrimonial home in Leeds a year later.

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Leeds Crown Court

Lavan was made the subject of a five-year restraining order banning him from contacting his wife or going within 10ft of the perimeter wall of her home.

Leeds Crown Court heard Lavan and his wife began living separately in detached properties on the same plot of land.

Robert Galley, prosecuting, said Mrs Lavan went to court on December 17 last year to have the terms of the restraining order amended to include a new address that she was intending to move to.

The first breach of the restraining order took place within hours of it being amended when he approached her outside her home as she returned from court.

Mr Galley said: "The defendant spoke to the complainant in an ordinary manner as if the order were not in place and they had not been to court."

He breached the order for a second time on Boxing Day when he was seen on the driveway outside her home.

The court heard Lavan appeared to be singing love songs and had "some sort of obsession with his wife, wanting to rekindle the relationship."

Lavan was also heard whistling children's music and playing children's songs on his mobile phone to attract the attention of his grandson.

The defendant was confronted by his eldest son during the incident.

On other occasions, Mrs Lavan noticed the door handle moving and the letter box being rattled.

Further breaches took place in January this year when bags of baby clothing and toys were left outside the property or put into the letter box.

An elephant toy was left in a shoe outside the house along with furniture.

The court heard Mrs Lavan resorted to using layers of tape to stop the letter box from being opened.

Lavan, of Whitecote Lane, Bramley, was arrested on January 13 and remanded in custody.

He pleaded guilty to five offences of breaching a restraining order.

Lavan appeared in court via a video link from Armley Jail.

A victim impact statement was read to the court on behalf of Lavan's wife, describing the impact of his behaviour towards her.

She said: "He doesn't seem to care about the restraining order, has no regard for the law or my mental health."

She described having recurring nightmares and anxiety as a result of her husband's conduct.

Mrs Lavan said the defendant had created a "hell hole" for her and that she now felt "a prisoner in her own home."

She described her husband's conduct as a "relentless routine of persecution and stalking" and she felt as if she had "a black cloud hanging over her."

The court heard the victim intends to divorce Lavan and does not want to get back with him.

Charles Blatchford, mitigating, said: "This is a tragic case.

"A couple, after many years of marriage and two children, have separated.

"There is a maelstrom of emotions in Mr Lavan and he finds himself in prison when he has never been in trouble before.

"It is a bewildering and frightening experience for him."

Mr Blatchford said Lavan had not acted violently towards his wife and accepted that his marriage was now over.

He added: "He thought that there was a possibility of, if not reconciling, coming to a sensible and polite way of dealing with things going forward."

Mr Blatchford said Lavan was a retired farmer who now worked repairing farming machinery in a workshop beside his home.

The barrister said Lavan had been living in fear in custody and had received a death threat from another inmate.

Mr Blatchford added: "Mr Lavan is now aware of how seriously the courts take the order.

"It is because he is not doing as he is told that he has ended up in Armley Jail."

Recorder Joanne Kidd told Lavan she was prepared to impose a suspended prison sentence so he could receive support from the probation service to address his offending.

Describing the offending, she said: "You had no regard whatsoever for the terms of that order.

"It did not matter to you one jot that your wife felt compelled to return to the court to vary it.

"She was clearly terrified of you and made it very, very clear to you that she did not want any contact with you.

"She is entitled to that view and you are clearly obliged by a matter of law and decency to abide by that order.

"The order had only just been printed out, the ink barely being dry, when you flouted it.

"You emotionally blackmailed her time and time again."

Lavan was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and complete a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Lavan was also made the subject of a curfew, between 7pm and 7am each day, for three months.

The defendant was made the subject of a restraining order banning him from contacting his wife for the next two years.

He must not go near her current home or future address.