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11 January 2012, 13:02
An Essex man who falsely accused his neighbour of being one of James Bulger's killers has escaped an immediate prison sentence.
Spencer Payne, 44, posted the message saying child killer Robert Thompson was living in a flat above his in Parsons Field, Dedham, Essex, following an ongoing row over a parking space.
Payne admitted sending an offensive electronic message at an earlier hearing at Colchester Magistrates Court and had been warned he could face jail.
But today he was given a 12-week sentence suspended for a year. He must also carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and was made subject to a restraining order.
Prosecutor Sharon Hall told the court that victim Gregory Filby had been left terrified to leave the house and unable to sleep at night for fear of vigilante attacks.
The message gave the precise address and said: "Convicted paedophile Robert Thompson is living in hiding with his wife and baby in the flat upstairs.''
Mrs Hall said an off-duty police officer saw the message and reported it. Payne agreed to delete it within 24 hours.
She added: "In a victim impact statement he said he feared for his wife and baby's safety. He was embarrassed to leave the house and was worried he might be stabbed or shot by somebody who believed the message.''