A high-profile campaigner for child sex abuse survivors has been jailed for stalking fellow charity workers.
Dave Sharp, who was a victim of horrendous abuse at a notorious Fife residential school, fell out with two people he had previously worked alongside.
He became convinced the head of the charity Wellbeing Scotland and others were conspiring against him and bombarded them with threatening messages.
Sharp warned them, “Be afraid, be very afraid”.
He said he would “destroy” them.
Impact on victim
One of the targets was Janine Rennie, chief executive of Wellbeing Scotland, based in Alloa.
In one of his messages, he warned: “Alloa is going to have bigger headlines than Christchurch, New Zealand” after the mass shooting atrocity there.
Sharp, 62, of Stevens Court, Northampton, appeared in the dock at Alloa Sheriff Court for the offences committed between April 2018 and August 2019.
Ms Rennie, said: “I have been through a frightening campaign against me where Mr Sharp attempted to involve many others.
“This led to a significant impact on my health and as a disabled person, that was very harmful.
“The way Mr Sharp spoke about me, often very publicly, was extremely distressing and very offensive.
“It led me to feeling intense humiliation and he made serious and dangerous threats.
“I have no doubt that his agenda was to ruin my life despite the fact that I was never anything but kind to him.
“I am glad that just days after International Women’s Day the impact of stalking on women was recognised by the court.
“Being in a senior role should not make anyone open to abusive and frightening behaviour.
“I am relieved that this nightmare is now over after almost four years of my life being destroyed.”
Split leads to start of abuse
However, he was unhappy with formation of a group called Fresh Start Foundation, which he felt covered the same remit as his own charity.
In April 2018 at an event in Dundee there was a disagreement between Sharp and Ms Rennie.
She and Patrick McGuire, a solicitor who did work for the charity, became the targets for abusive messages.
Sharp accused them of conspiring against him and bombarded them with emails which were often also sent to their work colleagues, politicians and journalists.
Mr McGuire felt the tone of the messages was becoming “more aggressive and menacing” said the depute.
Sharp talked about feeling suicidal and setting fire to himself, accused Ms Rennie of “scheming” against him and claimed she “had to tried to ruin him for financial gain”.
One message read, “Be afraid, be very afraid” adding they were “about to be exposed big style”.
Another message said: “I’m coming for you both and I will destroy you both.”
The depute said the stalking had a significant impact on the two victims and their families.
Jailed after refusing restriction order
Sharp admitted engaging in a course of conduct which caused fear or alarm.
He repeatedly sent them text messages and e-mails which contained comments of a threatening and abusive nature, including threats of violence, references to suicide and terrorist acts and offensive messages and continued to do so after being told to desist.
Defence solicitor Robert Smith said his client had suffered “horrific sexual abuse over a number of years” and that he was still dealing with that.
However, he had turned his life around after years of being homeless and taking drink and drugs to excess.
He said the relationship with Wellbeing Scotland “deteriorated dramatically” after a “breakdown in communications”.
This left his client feeling “frustrated” and he now accepted he sent messages which were “entirely inappropriate”.
He added: “His mental health is not good.
“He’s deaf, he has a heart condition and a variety of disorders”.
Somebody has to stand up for the survivors. I’m prepared to go to prison. This is wrong.”
— Dave Sharp
Sharp told his solicitor he would not agree to this because it would interfere with his campaigning work.
From the dock, Sharp told the sheriff: “Somebody has to stand up for the survivors. I’m prepared to go to prison. This is wrong.”
Sheriff Bowie then jailed him for 60 days.
He also imposed two non-harassment orders lasting five years to protect Ms Rennie and Mr McGuire.
Sharp complained: “You never heard my side” as he was led away.
Years of abuse
Sharp suffered years of abuse at the hands of staff at the St Ninians School, at Falkland.
He has campaigned on behalf of survivors, regularly appearing on TV and other media.
The residential school, run by the Christian Brothers, was “a place of abuse and deprivation”, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry ruled.
The inquiry’s chair Lady Smith said children suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse there.
She described the evidence about it as “shocking and distressing”.
Mr Sharp was awarded a five-figure compensation sum in 2017.
In 2016 two former teachers at the school were jailed for a total of 15 years after being convicted of the physical and sexual abuse of pupils.
Last month, a former pupil, who was sexually abused at the school, was awarded almost £1.4 million in damages in a civil action.