Tinder stalker sentenced for contempt of court
In Dew v Mills-Nanyn  EWHC 1925 (QB) Mrs Justice Collins Rice sentenced the Defendant Oliver Mills-Nanyn to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for a period of two years for 20 sample breaches of undertakings to the court. The Judge also ordered Mr Mills-Nanyn to pay the Claimant Scarlett Dew the sum of £30,000 in damages and her legal costs on the indemnity basis.
The Claimant and Defendant had met via Tinder and had a brief friendship between 2019 and 2020. Ms Dew cut off contact with Mr Mills-Nanyn after becoming increasingly concerned about his behaviour. Mr Mills-Nanyn had difficulties accepting this and began a "a serious and escalating campaign of harassing behaviour".
In February 2021, after ignoring warnings in a solicitors' 'cease and desist letter', Mr Mills-Nanyn was sued for harassment and misuse of private information. The case settled in March 2021 with Mr Mills-Nanyn admitting liability and providing various undertakings to the court not to engage in further harassment/specified conduct. These included undertakings not to impersonate Ms Dew, her friends or family, or to contact them or her university/employer. There was also an undertaking to disclose information about 'sock-puppet' social media accounts Mr Mills-Nanyn had operated. Damages and costs were waived on the condition there was compliance with the undertakings.
In the weeks and months that followed the settlement, Mr Mills-Nanyn breached his undertakings to the court by contacting individuals he knew to be friends of Ms Dew and, most egregiously, making a false complaint to Ms Dew's university that she had harassed him and was the subject of a police investigation and non-molestation order. He sought Ms Dew's expulsion from the university, an act that Collins Rice J described as "disgraceful". It further transpired that Mr Mills-Nanyn had failed to comply with his disclosure obligations after Norwich Pharmacal proceedings against Facebook Ireland Limited identified Mr Mills-Nanyn as the operator of various sock-puppet Instagram accounts.
Mr Mills-Nanyn originally denied the breaches and launched an aggressive defence, even suggesting that evidence against him had been forged and demanding that Ms Dew's devices and social media accounts be examined. He additionally suggested that the complaint to the university was confidential and not admissible. However, shortly before a trial he admitted all 20 breaches.
In sentencing Mr Mills-Nanyn to six months' imprisonment, Collins Rice J noted that the context of the breaches was a persistent "...harmful, offensive, oppressive and predatory course of conduct, constituting a gross invasion of a blameless young woman’s fundamental rights and freedoms, her autonomy and her privacy" and that the evidence the Defendant had filed for the hearing offered no apology (the only apology coming from his solicitor-advocate at the hearing) or explanation for his behaviour. Rather the witness statement, "...sought to a notable degree to try to minimise [Mr Mills-Nanyn's] personal responsibility or to justify his conduct, and contained no recognition of the perspective of Ms Dew or the effect of his behaviour on her and those close to her." Nevertheless, the Judge agreed to suspend the sentence for two years, acknowledging that credit must be given for the late admissions and taking into account the Defendant's good character, young age and the potential effect on his employment. The Judge warned Mr Mills-Nanyn, "...if you give the least further cause for concern in relation to the conduct about which you have made solemn promises to this Court, you are likely to find yourself arrested, brought back here, and sent immediately to prison
As a result of the breach, Mr Mills-Nanyn also became liable to pay £30,000 in damages as well as Ms Dew's legal costs on an indemnity basis. These are to be assessed if not agreed, with Mr Mills-Nanyn being ordered to make an interim payment in the sum of £98,154.
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