James Forster (poison pen letter writer)

Dr. James Forster was an English criminal who, between 1987 and 1999, sent 200 poison pen letters to residents of Manfield, district of North Yorkshire, and bombing them with paint bombs. A former Open University lecturer, he was found guilty of three counts of threatening to destroy property, three of sending indecent mail, and one of incitement to commit burglary.[1] He died in 2017.[2]

James Forster
Born
James Forster

1933 (1933)[1]
England
DiedSeptember 1, 2017
Manfield, England
MotiveAbuse campaign
Conviction(s)Threatening to destroy property
Sending indecent mail
Incitement to commit burglary
Criminal chargeThreatening to destroy property
Sending indecent mail
Incitement to commit burglary

Early life

Forster was born in 1933 and was employed by the National Coal Board for 11 years before attending Kings College at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. There he studied for a BSc in applied sciences before taking an MSc and PhD.[1]

He then lectured at Nottingham University for five years before joining the Open University (OU). He rose through the ranks from staff tutor to senior lecturer between 1971 and 1998, including a spell as acting deputy regional director in 1995.[1]

Crimes

Between 1987 and 1999, residents of Manfield, district of North Yorkshire, began receiving poison pen letters. The poison pen letter writer stalked a woman, Joanne Kellett, and sent a letter to her, accusing her of being a prostitute, and threatened to put a bomb down the chimney at the home of Molly Christian, one of his first victims,[3] to whom he sent three anonymous letters, and sent pornography to a 13-year-old girl.[1][4] Shirley Dodd, a mother of two, had her son, Jeremy, 11, accused of sending the letters, but he was soon ruled out as Forster was caught.[4] Prosecutor Michael O'Neill said it was telling that from the time Dr Forster was first arrested to the time of him coming to court only one letter had been sent to anyone in Manfield. It was an envelope full of dog excrement.[5] Forster had tried to buy Molly Cristian's home when she put it up for sale in 1989, but later dropped out. He turned his attention to the people who bought the house, Roy and Val Kellett and their daughter Joanne, then aged 19. Forster sent an anonymous letter to a man in Darlington inviting him to burgle the Kelletts' home when they were away on holiday. He also targeted their daughter.[3]

Arrest and trial

Dr. James Forster was arrested in 2001[6] and after an eight-day trial at Teeside Crown Court, a jury took four-and-a-quarter hours to find him guilty of three counts of threatening to destroy property, three of sending indecent mail, and one of incitement to commit burglary. However, he was cleared of three charges of damaging neighbours' property.[1] He was also accused of throwing a paint bomb at a house and threatening to throw a paint bomb at a car.[2]

Later life and death

Forster returned to Manfield upon his release. He had lived quietly with his wife until his death.[2]

References

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