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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Vampire fans 'harassed vicar'
St Mary the Virgin Church in Eling Hill, Totton
St Mary the Virgin Church in Eling Hill, Totton
Two vampire-obsessed men waged a three-month campaign of harassment against a vicar and his family, a court has been told.

Scott Bower and Benjamin Lewis were said to have harassed the Reverend Christopher Rowberry, his wife, Karen, and children, Hannah, 15, and Simon, 17, in Eling, near Totton, Hampshire.

The pair, who were later joined by Mr Lewis' 19-year-old girlfriend Natalie Gibson, made howling noises from a graveyard close to the family's vicarage and made scores of abusive telephone calls, it was alleged.

Mr Bower, 26, of School Road, Eling, Totton, and Mr Lewis and Ms Gibson, both of Kinross Road, Totton, deny religiously aggravated harassment between 1 October and 31 December 2002.

They also are said to have set off fireworks at the vicarage and left obscene pictures on a church notice board.

When police raided Mr Lewis' home, they discovered pictures of him and Mr Bower apparently drinking each other's blood.

(The harassment campaign) appears to be motivated by some hostility on the part of the defendants to the Christian religion
James Newton-Price, prosecuting
In a police interview Mr Lewis, 25, said: "I am a vampire and proud."

James Newton-Price, prosecuting, told Southampton Crown Court the campaign against the vicar of St Mary the Virgin Church in Eling Hill started in October 2002.

Mr Newton-Price said: "This conduct was aimed at the vicar and the church.

'Sensitive and intelligent'

"It appears to be motivated by some hostility on the part of the defendants to the Christian religion.

"It's also a rather sad case about two, perhaps in some ways, sensitive and intelligent young men who share an obsession with vampirism and the occult."

Mr Newton-Price said Mr Bower and Mr Lewis dressed in dark gothic-like clothing and Mr Lewis subscribed to magazines about vampirism.

He said Ms Gibson, who is alleged to have made harassing phone calls to the vicarage in December 2002, was not obsessed with vampirism but had gone along with the other two.

The jury was shown articles from a magazine called Crimson which were written by Mr Lewis.

One article said: "I am beyond the earthly understandings of humans because I am a reincarnated vampire."

The trial continues.



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