In the Media

Widow jailed for harassing hospital managers over death of husband

PUBLISHED September 6, 2012

Margaret Harvey, 74, was so angry with doctors she hired a private detective to uncover Julia Bridgewater's ex-directory home telephone number in order to "get her the sack."

Over a six month period she subjected Mrs Bridgewater with late night calls demanding answers as why her husband, Graham, a retired PE teacher, had died aged 66 in 2004.

Mrs Bridgewater, the chief executive at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, near Stafford, feared for the safety of her three children, a court heard. Police fitted panic alarms at her home.

Harvey had also tracked down the address of the retirement home of a retired cardiologist who had treated her husband, and turned up at his home armed with a wooden meat hammer.

At North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court Harvey, who admitted harassment, was jailed for four weeks after staging a courtroom protest at the hearing and declared: "I think to be honest I would be better going to prison."

She was also given an indefinite restraining order barring her from contacting Mrs Bridgewater or going near her home.

District Judge David Taylor told Harvey: "I was prepared to give you a suspended sentence, but from your conduct in court I see that would be completely unworkable. I have never had more regret in sentencing someone to a custodial sentence."

"I recognise that your motivation was to seek answers over what you see as wrongs relating to the death of your husband.

"But that right to protest is subject to the rule of law, no matter what we may feel about injustice. You deliberately chose your target Julia Bridgewater, and you intended to cause her harassment and maximum distress. Your actions have been deliberate, repeated and well thought out."