Multi-millionaire who quit role at University of Brighton after allegations of harassing his ex-girlfriend pleads guilty

He appeared at Hastings Magistrates' Court this morning
He appeared at Hastings Magistrates' Court this morning

A multi-millionaire dumped his ex-girlfriend’s possessions outside an Alfriston house as part of a campaign of harassment, a court has heard.

John Harley, 66, resigned from his role as chairman of the board of governors of the University of Brighton when the allegations surfaced earlier this year.

John Harley was chairman of the governors at the University of Brighton. Picture: Google Maps/Google Streetview

John Harley was chairman of the governors at the University of Brighton. Picture: Google Maps/Google Streetview

His nearly three-month campaign of harassment included scattering plant pots and a vacuum cleaner all over the car park where Raine Lacy was employed and writing to the doctor’s surgery where she worked to complain about her.

Harley, of Gallipot Hill in Hartfield, pleaded guilty to harassment on Monday.

Prosecutor Paul Edwards said Harley and Ms Lacy were in a relationship from September 2015 and it ended in October 2017 after the victim left.”

In November Miss Lacy sent the defendant a letter telling him why she had left and asking him to leave her alone, the court heard.

The following day the victim arrived at work to find the car park littered with plant pots, a hoover and other items

Paul Edwards, prosecutor

Later that month, Harley delivered possessions to Miss Lacy’s daughter’s house.

Mr Edwards said, “The following day the victim arrived at work to find the car park littered with plant pots, a hoover and other items. This was clearly embarrassing for the victim.”

He told the court Harley’s harassment of his ex-girlfriend continued into December.

In one instance he sent emails to all five of Miss Lacy’s daughters, and in another he left property outside the home of one of her friends, Mr Edwards said.

Miss Lacy reported him to police in mid-December, with a PC Daniels telling Harley to leave her alone.

The prosecutor continued, “On January 15, 2018 Miss Lacy was visiting her daughter’s house in Tunbridge Wells when she saw the defendant outside.

“He told the victim he knew she would be there as it was her normal routine.

“On January 29 all three doctors at the surgery where the victim worked received a letter from Mr Harley.

“He told them he had serious concerns about the victim and her ability to do her duties.”

The harassment took place between November 6 and January 30, according to the charge on the court list.

Mr Edwards added: “During the course of the harassment the victim felt the need to change her appearance.

“She changed her car through fear he was tracking her.

“The defendant is a very wealthy man and the victim feels he has the resources to harm her and he thinks he is above the law.”

The prosecution appealed to the magistrates to make Harley subject to a restraining order.

Tanya Robinson, defending Harley, said up until this incident Harley had been of ‘impeccable character’.

She added: “He continues to be a committed family man and has done a great deal of charity work.

“The first thing to say is that the behaviour that Mr Harley admits was entirely out of character.

“There is no doubt that the defendant really struggled with the later breakup of his relationship.

“Unfortunately in his distress he was not thinking clearly about his actions.”

She told the court that ‘thankfully’ the letters to Miss Lacy’s work colleagues were not read by them.

She added: “Importantly it was never his intention to cause Miss Lacy alarm or distress.

“He says he felt very alone.”

She added that the case has already had a big impact on him, causing him to lose both of his paid employments.

She continued: “As a result of these criminal allegations Mr Harley immediately stepped down from his role as chairman of the board of governors of Brighton university.

“It was a role he enjoyed immensely.”

Finally, Ms Robinson appealed to the court to give Harley credit for his guilty plea.

Harley was not sentenced this morning. Instead the magistrates’ elected to seek a report from the probation service.

All sentencing options have been left open and he is due to appear before the same court next month for this case.

For more crime news, click here.