A innocent man targeted for years by online trolls from across the country falsely accusing him of being a paedophile has spoken out.
Paul Ponting says the nightmare ordeal began after a disgruntled former employee set about spreading malicious and false accusations online. It lead to a stranger setting up a website calling the 52-year-old businessman a paedophile and making devastating and untrue comments about family members.
He says civil proceedings are set to take place in the coming months but other ‘online trolls’ who have been ‘fed poison’ about Paul from the website, which has now been removed, have been investigated for their involvement in the unfounded abuse. Teesside’s Gary Enticknap was jailed in 2021 after he accused married Paul of being a paedophile on a Facebook group, containing more than 30,000 members.
He was convicted of sending a grossly offensive message at York Crown Court and a part of a previous six-month suspended sentence was enforced.
Enticknap was recently back before Teesside Magistrates’ Court after he breached a 10-year restraining order to stop any communication with Paul by asking for a message to be given to him through a friend. The dad-of-two, who lives in Ormskirk, West Lancashire, says Enticknap is “collateral damage” in a much larger scheme of abuse by those targeting him.
Paul says the website, which he claims was the source of the false allegations by the 46-year-old former pimp, made “sick and sinister” accusations wrongly claiming that Paul was a paedophile, targeted family members and compared his wife to serial killer Rose West.
He said: “That website was the source of the information for Gary Enticknap. He researched me for whatever reason, found this information and sent me a message calling me a paedophile.”
Enticknap – formerly of Skelton and now of Henry Street, Redcar – was jailed in 2021 after admitting the offence of sending a grossly offensive message between November 8 and 9 2020. He was already subject to a suspended sentence after he admitted two charges of controlling prostitution for gain.
At York Crown Court last year, Enticknap was ordered to serve three months of the suspended prison sentence plus a month for sending the message. He was also handed a 10 year restraining order.
Paul told Teesside Live: “I thought I was protected but Enticknap continued to research me and discovered a friend of mine who he contacted. He started to talk about me and the conviction. While he was doing that it wasn’t a breach of his restraining order but within the conversation he asked to relay information to me he breached the order.”
The IT business owner says the abuse has continued for years and links to a £35,000 police pay-out after Paul was pepper-sprayed in front of his children before being stripped naked and “intimately searched” in 2014. The following year, the Liverpool Echo released shocking footage which shows Paul being stripped by police and then refusing to put on a “paper suit” officers threw to him as they left his cell at Skelmersdale Police Station.
He told the Echo at the time he felt “vindicated” after a four-year legal battle with Lancashire Constabulary, who decided not to fight a civil claim for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution. The force did confirmed it had settled the case without liability, meaning it made no formal admission of wrong-doing, although the settlement including a letter of apology.
Charges brought against Paul – including assaulting the officer who arrested him, harassing another officer and public order offences – were dropped following a trial at Chorley Magistrates’ Court, with the bench criticising the arresting officer. The court had heard the arrest followed a dispute between Paul and a former employee, who the businessman had reported to police for allegedly harassing and threatening him.
The decision had been made to drop the investigation – and sparked the heated conversation which led to Paul being sprayed with PAVA spray and arrested in 2014.
‘Sick and sinister’ messages
Paul says Enticknap is just one of the people who have targeted him and wants to remind others that it is a criminal offence. He says another man is currently under investigation by another police force elsewhere in the country by “following in Enticknap’s foot steps”.
“It’s been devastating, our business is on the brink of collapse,” Paul said. “I was diagnosed with enhanced PTSD from the police attacks on me, I suffer with my mental health and this makes it worse. I’ve been at a point where I have considered suicide.”
With another similar investigation ongoing, Paul wants others to be aware of the consequences of making false, malicious or grossly offensive statements. He said: “Had it been nipped in the bud all those years ago we would be living a normal life. Now we’re battling with trying to get false and sinister articles removed from the internet they are so sinister they’d turn your stomach.”
Source: Teeside Live