How two mums' playground feud ended in a bitter court battle
This week in Take a Break magazine: my story of how a school gate rivalry ended in one mum making death threats to another and trying to blame her for a bomb hoax.
When I first spoke to the victim of this bizarre crusade, Roz Page, she was standing on the steps of Wood Green Crown Court, North London, in October 2016. Just minutes earlier, her tormentor Claire Mann was jailed for three years for her crimes against Roz and others.
I could tell from Roz's voice that she was exhausted after the seemingly-endless court battle but relieved the ordeal was finally over.
Until March 2013, Roz was just a busy mum from Barkingside, Essex, who sat on the PTA at her children's school and volunteered in the school library. She her husband Nick were pillars of the Jewish community in North London and had two children Sophie and Matthew.
One day, Roz was doing the school run as usual when she noticed other parents avoiding her gaze at the school gates and brushing past her without saying a word.
That evening, when Roz pressed the buzzer at the entrance to the school for the PTA meeting, she was turned away. Fellow parents claimed Roz sent them abusive text messages and she was banned from school premises indefinitely.
Roz was confused and upset. "I kept saying: 'Please listen, I would never do this,' " she said.
In fact the texts were part of a bizarre campaign of revenge against Roz from fellow parent Claire. She believed Roz had committed the grave sin of neglecting to invite her daughter to Sophie's eighth birthday party.
To get her own back, Claire bought an unregistered phone and sent a text to other parents claiming Roz had a new number. Then she sent insulting messages to them knowing Roz would get the blame.
But what started as a childish prank became much more sinister.
Not content with alienating Roz from her group of friends and the school activities she loved, Claire used the same phone to send threatening texts to Roz about Sophie's party.
One chilling message read: 'Cancel the party now or have blood on your hands.'
Roz was distraught and called the police immediately. How could a simple disagreement over a birthday party invitation escalate so quickly?
The police warned Claire to stay away from Sophie's birthday party. But this only spurred her on to commit more twisted acts of revenge.
Using the same phone, Claire texted the wife of the Rabbi at Muswell Hill synagogue claiming a bomb was about to go off in the area, Claire hoped Roz would be blamed for the hoax and her reputation in the community would be in tatters.
The police rushed to the scene and evacuated the guests before sending a bomb squad to clear the area. After an extensive search they couldn't find any evidence of a bomb and began to suspect a hoax.
Rather than blaming Roz, officers traced the phone signal to Claire's house. Although she had thrown the phone away, police found the box in the bottom of her wardrobe and she finally admitted what she'd done.
"I did it, I did it, I did it," she cried. "It was a prank that has gone wrong."
Roz battled for Claire's conviction for three years but Claire prolonged the ordeal by changing her plea several times.
In October 2016 she was convicted of two counts of intending to pervert the course of justice. One count for her crimes against Roz and one for an unrelated matter. She was sentenced to three years in jail.
Although Roz was exhausted by the court battle, she was wanted to speak to the press and clear her name after Claire's smear campaign. With my help, her story was published by the Daily Mail and Take a Break magazine.
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