"This is an object lesson in the perils of so-called online romance," Judge David Evans said, talking about the case
24-year-old Alex Harper from Paignton, Devon had created an image online of a caring and sensitive man who is keen on anime. His 'large persona' lured young girls who were 'star struck' by him. It is only on interacting in person would they realize that there was something drastically wrong with him but by then it was too late.
Harper has now been convicted for one charge of controlling or coercive behaviour relating to a 16-year-old girl and for wounding the same victim and another teenager. The man had branded the girls with his initials to show his ownership over them. The Daily Star reported that he had carried it out without their consent and left the two vulnerable girls permanently scarred. The court heard that he a quick temper if he did not get his own way. He had a fixation with domination, causing pain and self-harm. Harped claimed during the hearing that his victims had agreed to his carvings. However, Judge David Evans told him that he was sly, egotistical, and calculating and that he wanted to find ways to "own" the teens and bend them to his will.
Judge Evans then said, "This is an object lesson in the perils of so-called online romance. I'm in no doubt you were a very difficult person to get along with." Harper explained that he was a victim of bullying and had suffered from body dysmorphia. It was reported that he also has Asperger's and ADHD. The Judge then said that his personal issues coupled with social anxiety could not fully explain his behaviour. He said, "The plain fact is you did not care about the physical and psychological harm you were inflicting. You feel you are still the victim. You most certainly are not the victim in any sense whatsoever. You are the perpetrator. You acted with deliberation and some forethought. I'm entirely sure your mental health and learning difficulties are not linked to the commission of the offences," according to the Daily Star.
Judge Evans explained that it was not a case of a bullied person turning into a bully himself but 'a possessive and violent man inflicting injury for the thrill of power.' Adrian Chaplin, defending, claimed that Harper is of a previous good character and did not post an imminent threat to the public. DevonLive reported that Harper has now been jailed for three years and four months.