“For three and a half years Ruth Jeffery was subjected to mental abuse by an unknown stalker. This True Stories film tells Ruths story, and its shocking conclusion.” – Channel 4. Ruth‟s cyber stalker ultimately turned out to be her boyfriend (Shane Webber), who wrecked and controlled her life for over 3 years. Ruth reverted from a confident, adventurous and outgoing person, to becoming almost like a child again, asking for help and advice about everything.
Ruth and Shane met in secondary school where they were put into the same specialist class. The pair got closer and eventually became a couple, with boy being each others first boyfriend/girlfriend. Shane created a websites containing images of himself and Ruth. In a lot of the images Ruth looked uncomfortable, and it was later revealed that she was forced by Shane to have her photograph taken. The school the pair attended found out about the website, and due to Ruths awkwardness in a lot of the photos, Shane was asked to remove the site.
Ruth and Shane split up when Ruth and her family moved to Southampton. 4 years later – Ruth and Shane reconnected through the internet. Shane asked Ruth if she missed him and spoke about how “you never forget about your first love”. Shane lived in Nottingham and Ruth lived in Southampton. Ruths father was originally not told about the pairs rekindled relationship.
2009 – Ruth began a degree in Computer Science at Loughborough University. Ruth then started getting a lot of MSN requests from people she used to go to school with. These people were sending her messages asking how she was, telling her that they really like her at school and asking her if she wanted to meet them for a drink. Ruth found this strange as she did not speak to these people (even when she was at school) and was not popular. Ruth then started to receive anonymous phone calls (with no-one on the other end), first on her landline and then on her mobile. There was also incidents of people knocking on Ruths front door late at night.
Christmas day 2009 – Ruth was contacted by someone she used to go school with, saying they had a picture of her naked. The picture was sent to Ruth and it turned out the image wasn‟t of her, but of her face placed onto the body of another person. 2011 – Ruth received images from a MSN contact of herself in the shower. These images were taken by Shane, who thought it would be funny to burst in on Ruth in the shower and take images of her on his phone. Ruth panicked when she saw the images of herself. Shane was the only person that had access to the images, but Ruth did not think it could have been him and therefore believed someone had stolen them off of Shanes phone. Ruth wanted to send the images to the police but was discouraged by Shane who told her that she was „his‟ and he didn‟t want anyone else to see her in that way (naked).
Ruth searched her own name on the internet to find that there were a number of naked images of herself on adult websites. This affected Ruth so much that she couldn‟t sleep, eat and didn‟t want to leave the house (in case somebody recognised her as being on an adult site). Ruths mother (Elaine) was then tagged in a photo on Facebook, which showed Ruth, again naked. Elaine found it difficult to deal with, as Gordon (Ruth‟s father) did not know about the pairs rekindled relationship.
After the first set of exposed images somehow made their way onto the internet, Shane still took more. Ruth did not want to take these images, as she was scared they may also make it onto the internet, but Shane promise her that this would not happen. Ruth refused to take the images, but was eventually persuaded by Shane who guilt tripped her by saying things such as “shows how much you love and trust me” and that if she didnt allow him to take the images then her would leave her. Ruth allowed Shane to take a second lot of exposed images of her, which like the first lot, somehow made it onto the internet. Shane began to blame his friend Lee for the photos being leaked. Lee was contacted by the police who asked if he knew Ruth and told him that she was reporting him for harassment. He immediately rang Shane to ask him if he knew anything about the situation, who ultimately denied knowing anything about it.
Ruth started to contacting adult sites about getting the images of herself taken down. Eventually the images were removed, but ultimately made it back onto the sites again. The police then visited Lee to give him a final caution for harassment, telling him that if he carried on they would arrest him. Ruth asked Shane to start helping her to get the images taken down from the internet. He agreed and as soon as he found an image, would ring Ruth to tell her. One day Ruth found an image of herself online, that was linked to a profile page containing further images of her. On this profile there was also a folder of images named „Tributes‟, in which men had taken printed images of Ruth naked and placed them against their private area.
It turned out that there were a number of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Bebo profiles set up of people pretending to be Ruth. A friend contacted Ruth asking “why are you being like this?”. Her MSN account had been hacked and the hacker had told Ruth‟s friend that she didn‟t like her. It was then found out that false email addresses had been created in Ruths name. From these addresses emails were sent to Ruth‟s friend, who believed they were from Ruth. These emails had the desired effect and Ruth became alienated from friends and colleague‟s. Ruth developed OCD due to the events that happened. She had to check things such as light switches and taps around 8 times before she felt safe to leave the house.
1st June 2011 – Shane started to become annoyed with Ruth as she had not been speaking to him as much as usual. The following morning Ruth went to sign into her MSN account to find that her password was incorrect and that someone had hacked into her account. The same had been done to her Facebook account. She thought Shane had done it and confronted him, but he denied it. It turned out that Ruth‟s sister (Eve) had also had her Facebook account hacked and the two girls had been tags in pictures that weren‟t them. Ruth‟s mother and sister agreed that the stalker could be Shane, as it had to be someone who had access to both of their friends lists.
Ruths parents drove to her (at university) to tell her that they thought her stalker was Shane. Obviously Ruth did not believe the claims and wanted evidence. Ruth eventually got her Facebook account back, only to have it hacked again. When she had access to her account she noticed Shane had sent an abusive message to the „hacker‟ telling them to give the password back. This message made Ruth believe it couldn‟t be him, as she did not think he would send a message to himself. Whilst Ruth‟s parents were with here at University a man knocked on the door asking if Ruth lived there. This was followed with texts saying “What you doing... Aint standing around any longer”, which were assumed to be off of the man that knocked on her door. Police picked up the man that knocked at Ruth‟s door, who said he had been talking to someone that he thought was Ruth and had been invited round for sexual favours.
Shane contacted Eve (Ruth‟s sister) saying things such as “Don‟t forget to come and kiss me as I am the birthday boy” and “Happy valentines day xxxx”. Ruth started to receive messages saying “Haha Shanes been cheating on you... He‟s sent me pictures of another girl at his house”. These pictures were sent to Ruth and contained a naked girl lying on Shanes bed. Shanes excuse was that he had uploaded images of every room in his flat when he first moved in, and that someone must have cut out the image of the naked girl and put it into the image of his room. Shane became very controlling towards Ruth. So much so that he even controlled the way she made tea, complaining at her if she did not make it how she normally did or how he liked it. Shane asked Ruth to make pornographic videos. At first Ruth refused, but gave in due to Shane getting violent and saying hurtful things. Ruth was under the impression that these videos would remain private, but they didnt and Shane stuck by his story that he had been hacked. Ruth still believed it was Lee.
Lee started to receive abusive messages from Ruths username, accusing him and also threatening him and his family. Lee did not reply and instead saved the messages. 19th June – An email was sent from Ruth‟s email address to her father, telling him to search for her name. The email also had images attached to it, which Ruth‟s father did not open as he knew what they were. The email was traced back to a commercial server provider in the U.S, so Ruth‟s father got into contact with them. 22nd – Ruth‟s father received a letter from VPSCITY abuse department saying that they had suspended the server and it was being queued for termination. It turned out that VPSCity.net was registered to a Shane Webber, Ruth‟s boyfriend.
On the day of his interview, Shane spoke about how had just left Ruth in the town square and that he was meeting her afterwards as well. When asked Ruth denied this, saying she‟d not met him on that day. Shane said that Ruth was lying. Throughout the interview Shane denied everything, that was until the police told him that they were going to search his and his mothers addresses. He then admitted to the whole thing.
Ruth became very worn down and often couldn‟t sleep or eat properly, often through panicking and worrying about everything. This also affected her university life, meaning she couldn‟t concentrate in lectures due to being to tired or thinking about the situation. Ruth developed OCD due to the situation. This made her late for university a lot as she had to check things multiple times before she felt comfortable to leave the house (usually 8 times). Ruth changed from being a confident young woman, to a completely different state due to the torment she endured. A psychologist stated that what happened was as bad as physical assault, but that the only difference is physical assault would over quicker and internet harassment can be interminable (endless). Ruth does not trust her own instincts anymore. This means she worries about simple things like driving her car, shopping or whether to go to a party.
The maximum sentence that Shane could have got at the magistrates court is 6 months. Ruth felt that Shane should have been put into prison for the three years that he made her life hell. Shane was imprisoned for 4 months and given a 5 year restraining order to stay away from Ruth and her family. Shane only server 2 months of his sentence.
Ruth felt that this all happened due to jealousy, as it all started when she told Shane she was going to university. He saw that Ruth was getting on with life, making friends etc, and he did not like this, especially if the friends were male. She also feels boredom could be partly to blame, as Shane did not work or have anything to do, so just stayed at home all day. Ruth told of how she could understand if Shane thought at the start that it would pull them closer to each other, as she turned to him for help. Although she did not understand why he enjoyed controlling her and her life so much. She finds it difficult to explain how much hurt the situation caused and cannot understand how someone do it to another person. “I was intentionally controlled, bullied and harmed” - Ruth
Ruth‟s mother tried to block her feelings towards the situation out, and resorted to drink to cope. Ruth‟s family felt that the issue was not whether there was anymore people like Shane, but the setting up of boundaries of what behaviour is acceptable. They also felt it was important for the court to not discourage victims to come forward, which they felt would happen if a relative punishment was not given to Shane. The family felt that Shane should have been punished an equal amount to the chaos that he ultimately caused in Ruth‟s life.
CHANNEL4 (2012) 4OD My Social Network Stalker [WWW]. Available from: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/my-social-network-stalker/4od [Accessed: 02/03/2012]. REALSCREEN (2012) Ruth Jeffery [Online image]. Available from: http://realscreen.com/2012/02/14/c4-rize-tackle-my-social-network-stalker/ [Accessed: 02/03/2012]. GAWKER (2011) Ruth Jeffery and Shane Webber [Online image]. Available from: http://gawker.com/shane-webber/ [Accessed: 02/03/2012]. MIRROR (2012) Ruth Jeffery and her mother [Online image]. Available from: http://www.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article691076.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/+Ruth+Jeffrey( PICTURED+WITH+MOTHER+ELAINE)+turned+to+boyfriend+Shane+Webber [Accessed: 02/03/2012]. THESUN (2011) Shane Webber [Online image]. Available from: http://img.thesun.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01379/SNN2211BXX-380_1379755a.jpg [Accessed: 02/03/2012]. BELFASTTELEGRAPH (2011) Shane Webber on court day [Online image]. Available from: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/girlfriend-hurt-by- internet-stalker-16071195.html [Accessed: 02/03/2012]. WHATSONXIAMEN (2011) Ruth Jeffery [Online image]. Available from: http://www.whatsonxiamen.com/news_images/e8baa53914bfa3ffda531497_7.jpg [Accessed: 02/03/2012].