A former BBC DJ has been warned he faces jail after being found guilty of launching an ongoing campaign of harassment against broadcasters and targeting TV presenter Jeremy Vine with an “avalanche of hate”.
Alex Belfield was labeled the “Jimmy Savile of trolling” during a trial which heard he had repeatedly posted or sent abusive messages, videos and emails.
Jurors accepted that Belfield caused serious alarm or distress to the two victims and found him guilty of “simple” stalking in relation to Channel 5 and BBC Radio 2 presenter Mr Vine and theater blogger Philip Dehaney.
BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Keith was driven to suicide by a “tsunami of hate”, a trial heard.
Mr Wynne also gave evidence against Belfield, telling jurors: “This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling.”
Watching the video output of Belfield swimming in sewage, Mr Wynne said of the defendant’s behaviour: “It felt like a fish hook was stuck in my face and my flesh was being torn apart, And the only way to avoid more pain was to stay whole. Even now.”
Jurors at Nottingham Crown Court deliberated for 14 hours and 27 minutes before convicting Belfield of the four charges on Friday.
Belfield showed no emotion and wrote notes on a piece of paper as he was found guilty of committing the crimes between 2012 and 2021.
Trial judge Mr Justice Saini told the defendant he “needs to be more careful about your online communications” as he adjourned sentencing until September.
“Detention is a good chance of punishment,” he added.
The court was told that the 42-year-old, from Mapperley, Nottingham, started out as a broadcast assistant on local radio and in recent years set up a YouTube channel called Celebrity Radio.
His channel has 373,000 subscribers and his website allows people to buy tickets to his touring shows and merchandise such as mugs and t-shirts.
Belfeld posted a video on his channel each day of the trial – some lasting more than an hour – to discuss the evidence.
There is no indication whether his criminal convictions will mean his next show in Llanelli will be cancelled.
His touring show has featured guests such as columnist Katie Hopkins and TV comedian Bobby Duro.
Belfield told the court he had been the victim of a social media “pile-on” and “witch hunt” by other broadcasters, after exercising his rights to freedom of expression in communication with the complainants.
Opening the Crown’s case last month, prosecutor John McGuinness QC said Vine was subjected to a “constant bombardment” of harassing tweets and YouTube videos in 2020.
The presenter, the court heard, suffered a wave of online abuse after making false and completely unfounded claims about the alleged theft of £1,000.
Belfield is said to have developed a “dislike, almost hatred” for Mr Wynne after the BBC donated the money to a memorial fund set up in honor of a friend of the broadcaster.
In his evidence, Mr Wynne, who launched separate defamation proceedings last year, said of Belfield: “I found it shocking and hurtful, and it upset me. I have had a There was a physical stalker who followed me.
“It’s a picnic compared to this guy. It’s like an avalanche of hate you get hit with.”
Another of his victims included a videographer who was stalked online after tweeting his disdain for one of Belfield’s YouTube videos.
At the start of the trial, prosecutors said Belfield was “not ready to move on” after leaving the BBC and became angry at the thought of being treated unfairly by his managers.
He was found not guilty of stalking charges in relation to former BBC head of North Rosina Breen, former BBC Radio Leeds presenters Liz Green and Stephanie Hirst, and ex-BBC worker Helen Thomas.
Mr McGuinness told the court: “It is not suggested that the defendant’s conduct involved physical stalking … although what Alex Belfield did had the effect of some people actually following Mr Belfield in their homes. were worried about the possibility of coming.
“The stalking involved in this case is of a different kind – and more akin to internet trolling.
“The alleged victims did not want to be contacted by Alex Belfeld, they did not want to see or hear what he had to say about them.
“But he went ahead and did it anyway, prosecutors say, to continue harassing them, knowing he was harassing them — to the extent that what he did posed a serious threat to them or caused distress which affected their daily life in the worst way.”
Belfield was granted bail and will be sentenced on September 16.