Gay man accused of racism after rejecting woman's romantic proposal

Vanessa Pinto was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court
-Credit: (Image: Tom Mack)


A gay man who rebuffed a woman after she became fixated with him suffered a 19-month campaign of abuse that included accusations of racism, sexually explicit messages and indecent pictures. Venessa Pinto, who is black, fell for the man, who is white, after meeting him through her church.

Leicester Crown Court heard on Friday, May 24, how Pinto, 29, first expressed a romantic interest in the man in early 2021, after which he told her he was gay. The stalking began in August 2021 with back-and-forth emails between the two in which Pinto asked the man not to tell other people what had happened between them.

As well as emails, she sent messages on Twitter and, later in her campaign of harassment, which continued until March 2023, she set up anonymous email accounts to send him abuse and indecent images, which Leicestershire Police were later able to trace back to Pinto's phone.

READ MORE: 'Dishonest' deputy head at Leicester primary school helped students cheat test

In total, Pinto, who had pleaded guilty to stalking involving serious harm or distress, admitted 103 unwanted communications sent to the man. Pree Brada, prosecuting, told the court: "The nature of the messages changes.

"They become sexually explicit and accuse him of racism. False allegations are set out and he is sent indecent images of adults.

"This has affected his life. He has lost thousands of pounds of work, he's depressed, his sleep and appetite are affected. He is paranoid to the point where he's scared to open up his own mail and has to employ an assistant to do that."

Pinto was arrested in March last year and, at first, denied sending the messages in her interviews with Leicestershire Police. She later refused to comment.

Callum Church, representing Pinto, asked the judge to follow the recommendations set out in a pre-sentence report by the probation service recommending a curfew or unpaid work. He said Pinto, now of Hawthorn Way, Shepperton, Surrey, had moved back in with her parents and that there was no need for a restraining order.

Pinto, who wept in the dock during the sentencing hearing, was given an 18-month community order with 280 hours of unpaid work and also ordered to pay £350 in court costs.

Recorder Stuart Sprawson said he would make a restraining order - for a period of 12 months - because the victim had requested one.

He told Pinto: "He did not reciprocate the feelings you had for him and following some degree of reconciliation you appear to have become fixated on the relationship and you chose to start contact by various means.

"You were sophisticated enough to create a number of email accounts to cover your true identity. That led to him receiving many messages and they became increasingly personal towards him and his sexuality, his race and his character.

"You even went so far as to send him indecent images. You plagued his life and his mental health suffered.

"While this stalking does cross the custody threshold, the sentence would be comparatively short so I must consider if a community order can provide the appropriate rehabilitation and punishment."

He decided against making an order for compensation to the man to save him any further involvement with Pinto. He said: "I suspect he is glad you are out of his life.

"You have caused harm to him and you should never forget that. I hope you are going to move on."