A woman is accused of waging a seven-month harassment campaign against her former boyfriend by loitering outside his home, following him on pub and gym visits, and creating a fake social media account calling him wrongly referred to as “pedo”, a court heard.
Financial services broker trainer Amelia Couchman reportedly refused to face the facts when her relationship with former Barclays manager Jason Lines ended in 2018.
It is claimed the 31-year-old ‘sought to make Mr Lines’ life a misery’ once he was single again by putting him on ‘watch’, leaving him ‘stressed and paranoid’.
She is accused of harassing him with ‘thousands’ of calls and messages from ‘no caller ID’ numbers and around 30 email addresses, monitoring Mr Lines’ home, following him to the gym, local bars and shops, and pretending to be his fiancée if she saw him talking to other women.
A jury was told that a “cloned” LinkedIn business account had the word “Paedo” in his name and he was threatened that it would be sent to his colleagues.
Amelia Couchman, 31, of St Mary’s Island, Chatham, Kent, is accused of carrying out a seven-month ‘obsessive and vindictive’ campaign of harassment against her ex-boyfriend
Another fake profile was created on the dating app Bumble using his photo with a woman’s name.
Miss Couchman’s alleged behavior even led to staff banning her from a pub where Mr Lines is said to be drinking, it is said.
The father-of-three, who is in his 40s, said he believed the continued harassment may have affected his job performance as a Barclays bank manager.
He told Nightingale Crown Court in Maidstone in Kent that for the first time in 23 years at Barclays he had not received his bonus and was subsequently made redundant.
Miss Couchman, of St. Mary’s Island, near Chatham, Kent, denies being the victim of stalking involving serious alarm or distress between November 2018 and June 2019.
At the start of her trial, Miss Couchman was said to have been ‘furious’ at the rift with Mr Lines and was ‘seeking to turn her life into misery’.
They originally met on Tinder in December 2015 but, according to the prosecution, split after 18 months in September 2017.
They were reportedly intimate a few times afterward, the last being in September 2018.
Miss Couchman denies experiencing serious alarm or distress between November 2018 and June 2019
Miss Couchman herself described their relationship as ‘toxic and on and off for years’.
But she insisted they never “officially” broke up and were still dating throughout the period of alleged harassment.
Testifying, she repeatedly denied contacting him from a phone number or email address other than her own, or creating the fake online accounts.
She also told the jury that her BMW or Mercedes would simply be parked outside Mr Lines’ house because he had invited her.
The court heard that the day before Miss Couchman was arrested in June 2019, she gave her computer and iPhone to her neighbour.
A second iPhone was found in her car but she never gave police her passwords for any of the three devices.
Mr Lines told the jury that Miss Couchman had never been violent, but he feared the situation could escalate.
It is claimed Miss Couchman sought to put Jason Lines (pictured) ‘under surveillance’, leaving him ‘stressed and paranoid’
Asked about the impact of his alleged behavior on his personal and professional life, particularly the fake LinkedIn and Bumble accounts, he told the court: “I was very afraid of losing my job.”
“If someone creates an account about you with a hyphenated name ‘Paedo-Lines’ and then starts sending connection requests to colleagues, that’s clearly going to raise concerns that it will come back to me. and will have a massive impact on my work.”
“I wasn’t sleeping particularly well. I was obviously very anxious and ended up being fired at the end of that year.
“I never received a bonus, which was the first time in 23 years of working there. The work referenced was because my performance had dropped and I can only assume that this (the alleged harassment) had a negative impact on my performance.
“It just made me feel like someone was watching my every move. It almost makes you paranoid – does Miss Couchman have access to my phone, can she see everything I do?
“You just feel like you’re constantly being harassed and followed in everything you do.
“It just made me feel stressed, anxious, lack of sleep, lack of concentration.
“I just couldn’t get on with my life. I was on dating sites because I was looking for a new partner. There is no chance of that happening in this situation. Indeed, my life was on hold. It just made me feel stressed and anxious every day.
The trial is underway at Nightingale Crown Court in Maidstone in Kent (a hotel which is temporarily being used as a courtroom to deal with a backlog of cases)
It is alleged that despite the anonymity of the caller ID, the persistent messages were consistent with Miss Couchman’s general demeanor.
Mr Lines added that he had warned her he would go to the police if she continued to contact him, but that she ‘just wouldn’t listen’.
He denied on cross-examination by Miss Couchman’s solicitor, Daniel Cohen, that they were in an ‘on-off’ relationship at the time of the alleged harassment and that he had invited her to his home.
Asked about lengthy phone calls between them, some lasting more than two hours, while Miss Couchman is accused of harassing him, Mr Lines refuted Mr Cohen’s suggestion that he was “leading her because she was a pretty little thing, nice to have around when it suited him”.
After his arrest, Miss Couchman accused Mr Lines of playing ‘mind games’ and suggested he may have set up the fake social media accounts himself.
When Mr. Cohen asked him if he had, the businessman retorted: ‘Do you honestly think I would create a LinkedIn profile of myself calling it Paedo-Lines?’
The court heard that several complaints were made to the police from 2017 by Miss Couchman and Mr Lines.
These included Miss Couchman alleging that her former boyfriend had assaulted her and telling her of his concerns about her waiting outside her home.
She told the jury that early in their relationship he started insulting her about her appearance, saying he was embarrassed because she looked like “a doll bird”.
She added that he would also take “unflattering” pictures of her when she was not wearing makeup and pictures when she was sleeping.
Miss Couchman also described how Mr Lines repeatedly told her their relationship was over, including on the day of her grandfather’s funeral and another occasion during the holidays, only to apologize and ask her to come back .
She added that he made her feel “like I no longer had an identity.”
Asked why she hadn’t pursued the cases with the police over his alleged behaviour, Miss Couchman told the court: ‘I didn’t want him to get in trouble. I didn’t want him to end up in the position I am in now.
She also argued that photos given to police by Mr Lines of her in the same shop or pub, or waiting outside his house or gym, did not show her stalking him.
Those of her at his front door were simply taken away as she had a cigarette and he locked her in “for a joke”, she added.
Miss Couchman denied during cross-examination by prosecutor Wayne Cranston-Morris that she had ‘acted out of revenge’ because she ‘couldn’t take no for an answer’.
“You felt your love and your feelings went unrequited. He didn’t feel the same for you as you felt for him and you couldn’t accept that,” he told her.
But she replied, “How can you do this if you haven’t broken up?”
The trial continues.