The victim of a prolonged harassment campaign by a Dunedin government employee has spoken of the fear that almost drove him to take his own life.
Dunedin businessman Daniel Pryde waived his right to name suppression after Jeremy Buis was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court on Friday.
Earlier this week he shared his account of the two-and-a-half year harassment.
“I really thought someone was watching and was going to shoot me,” he said.
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An investigating police officer, who arrived at his office the day Pryde was sent a sex toy in the mail, told him Buis was not the man responsible.
After receiving text messages from gay men seeking sex and having his name and gay slurs spray-painted around Dunedin, businesses neighbouring his own were then sent letters saying he was a paedophile.
Fearing Buis was watching him as he recovered those letters, Pryde said he returned to his office and “reconsidered what to do”.
“End my life now or start to fight back.”
Pryde received more messages featuring his name and gay slurs were burnt into the grass at city sporting grounds. He said he once took his daughter on a school trip only to see “Gay Prydee” written in graffiti.
At one point he even used an angle grinder to remove his name and number from a gay hangout and replace it with Buis’s phone number.
When the messages were “telling me to buy something bulletproof”, the man said he used another phone to trap Buis by texting him: “Where can we meet man pork?”. But there was no reply.
However, in December 2014 he received a text saying “Better check your other phone”.
“I think you’re in the s… bro.”
The only person who knew he had that phone, he said, was Buis, the man he had messaged months before.
“The texts that rolled in made me vomit on my office floor. I knew it was him I could feel the rage as he kept sending text after text to the trap phone.”
He contacted a police officer investigating the case and was told to go to a station immediately, but “I was in the worst state ever”.
“I was shaking uncontrollably, hyperventilating and bawling my eyes out. My end was here and I could feel it.”
Two days before Christmas his wife received a letter saying he was having an affair and that the mistress’s husband would beat him up.
But days later Pryde heard Buis had been charged, however that relief turned to despair when he started receiving more text mesages and a photo of himself from a newspaper with pictures of penises added.
Onetext read: “Great photo in the paper. Next time put some socks in your undies-make it look like you have nuts”.
When that text arrived he had been talking to staff at a meeting and one employee saw it.
“He laughed. I looked down and saw it too and cried. I felt so humiliated in front of my own staff.”
With the police case appearing to stall he thought about ending his life.
“I was in a very dark place.”
But the thought of his wife and daughters stopped him.
The text messages, but just from one phone number, continued.
On January 19, 2017, just weeks out from the trial, he received the text “Happy new year limpdick”.
Another said he was a wife beater, while another text referenced his vehicle as he went shopping with his family.
He felt his tormentor was making him go mad.
Buis was found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage in the judge’s reserved decision delivered on Thursday.
He was convicted, sentenced to 200 hours community work and ordered to pay emotional harm reparation of $15,000.
Outside court Pryde said the reparation was “dirty money” and he would rather donate it to charity.
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