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Humiliation by E-Mail

December 22, 2000

An e-mail avenger who sent indecent pictures of his ex-wife to her and her work colleagues was branded "almost inhumane" in court yesterday.

After they split up, Karl Kostelnik sent 11 explicit and grossly-indecent photographs to 43-year-old Janice Kostelnik's workplace at Bernard Matthews's turkey HQ - where his lawyer said there was a "culture" of sending squalid and humorous messages.

Cromer court heard that Kostelnik, 46, from Whimpwell Green, Happisburgh, was under great mental strain because of the break-up.

He had admitted two offences of sending indecent telecom messages at an earlier hearing and was back in the dock yesterday for sentencing.

Stipendiary magistrate Patrick Heley sentenced him to two months' jail, suspended for two years, and ordered that his ?1000 computer be confiscated.

Mr Heley told Kostelnik: "This behaviour almost beggars belief in its mean-spiritedness and disloyalty."

Sending the explicit pictures was "outrageous and almost inhumane", with enormous potential for harm.

A form of jail sentence was needed to express society's horror at what he had done and to deter others from trying to do the same, said Mr Heley.

The court heard that the Kostelniks had known each other for 10 years and been married seven, but split up in May despite attempts at reconciliation.

Mrs Kostelnik, a stock controller with Bernard Matthews at Great Witchingham, was "extremely shocked and disturbed" when she and six colleagues received the first collage of pictures, the court heard. She was so distressed she had to go home.

A few days later she received an e-mail purporting to be from colleagues saying: "You are disgusting. We don't want to work with you. Please leave."

When Kolstelnik was arrested he claimed his ex-wife had asked for the first photos and that he accidentally sent them to her colleagues by hitting a "reply to all" button on his home computer.

But he admitted sending the second batch intentionally.

His solicitor Ted Bell said Kostelnik was of previous good character and had endured "a great deal of provocation".

Husband and wife had a history of mental-health problems, and Kostelnik was still receiving psychiatric help. At the time of the offences he was "in a complete state of nervous breakdown, crying all the time, in total collapse and unable to walk along the road".

He attributed this "to the way his wife treated him".

Mr Bell said there was "something of a culture at Bernard Matthews of sending squalid and humorous communications".

Divorce proceedings were now in hand.

After the hearing Kostelnik declined to comment other than to say: "I'm glad it's all over."

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