A man who contacted a woman on Gumtree and threatened to kill her with a chainsaw avoided jail today.

Michael Curling, 48, hounded a total of six victims he met on the online selling site between July 2014 and 2017 from his then home in Thornliebank, East Renfrewshire.

Curling harassed a 46-year-old who was selling an item from her flat.

He asked her for a date, but told to leave her alone.

Fiscal Lauren Donnelly told Glasgow Sheriff Court: “He told her that he would come round with a chainsaw and that she was dead.”

Curling had earlier contacted a 33-year-old woman who placed an ad requesting free furniture for her flat.

Curling offered her glass and kitchenware before the pair agreed to mee at a Lidl car park in Barrhead, Renfrewshire.

Miss Donnelly said: “He sent continuous messages to the woman asking to go to her home for tea or coffee.

“Curling also asked if she wanted to go for a drive in his car.”

The woman refused and told Curling that she had a boyfriend.

He replied: “He can’t be much of a boyfriend if he lets you move into a flat with nothing.”

The woman was “alarmed” by Curling’s behaviour which continued.

He sent messages calling her a “slag” and that he would drag her out her house and batter her.

Curling later claimed he “gets angry when drinking.”

He then went on to meet the woman whose intention was to get him to leave her alone.

However, Curling sent further threats including that “boys would do her” and the matter was reported to the police.

A 29-year-old woman posted an ad for a kitchen table on Gumtree and was contacted by Curling.

He again asked her out on a date before sending threatening messages to her stating that he knew where she lived.

The woman also reported the matter to the police.

A 34-year-old clinical psychologist received a message about a chair on Gumtree and Curling offered to collect it.

Miss Donnelly said: “The next day, Curling messaged asking if she was up for a hot date this weekend.”

The woman ignored another message asking for a date before she was called “ignorant” and a “weirdo” by Curling.

A 43-year-old was similarly pestered to meet after she asked Curling to stop messaging her.

He went on to call the woman a “cow” and made remarks saying her husband would be “lying with his throat slit gushing with blood.”

A 26-year-old woman was also asked out on a date by Curling and when told to desist he sent threatening messages.

Miss Donnelly said: “He offered her sex for lots of money.”

The matter was reported to the police.

Curling, now of Darnley, Glasgow, was not arrested until 2020.

He pled guilty to five charges of stalking and one for behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.

Representing himself, he told a previous hearing that he felt his life was in danger since pleading guilty.

He claimed at today sentencing that he had no intention of sexual contact as he is “not that kind of person.”

Sheriff Gerard Bonnar considered that there was a significant sexual element to the offences and put him on the sex offenders register for five years.

He said: “These are serious matters and there is a serious course of conduct.

“I consider that the custodial threshold has been passed but I need to consider the alternatives available to me.”

Curling was put under supervision for two years and tagged for seven months between 8pm and 6am.

A spokesperson for Gumtree said: “We do not tolerate the use of our platform by bad actors and are pleased to see justice has been brought in this case.

“We strongly encourage anyone who has suspicions or concerns about a user to report it to us immediately via our helpdesk, so our dedicated safety team can investigate and take action to keep our community safe. This could include blacklisting the offending user or, where necessary, working with law enforcement to secure convictions.

“The safety of our users remains our absolute priority, and you can find more information on our safety hub online at www.gumtree.com/info/safety.”

By Connor Gordon

Renfrewshire News Court Reporter

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