A 28-year-old Indian-origin man who had pleaded guilty to stalking offences has been sentenced to two years and eight months' imprisonment by a UK court for seven counts of stalking in relation to aggravated offences against 121 victims.
Vishaal Vijapura was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court in south London on Tuesday and also received a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for a term of five years, which imposes restrictions on his activities under a court order.
Vijapura had pleaded guilty at the same court to seven counts of stalking involving fear of violence through the internet.
“The dedication and commitment from the officers working on the case, with national support from colleagues across the UK, has meant that Vijapura can no longer put these victims at fear of violence,” said Detective Inspector Paul Smith, from Scotland Yard's South Area Public Protection Unit.
“Some of the victims police have contacted were too scared to venture out alone after the threats received from Vijapura. The internet is now a safer place with future proofing against ongoing offending from this man in the form of a custodial sentence. This kind of criminality is dangerous and offensive and will absolutely not be tolerated,” he said.
"The victims in the case have shown great strength in coming forward. They have supported the investigation and provided evidence of how Vijapura's misogynistic behaviour has deeply affected their lives. It is wholly right that he has received a custodial sentence,” he added.
The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) authorised the charges against Vijapura to illustrate his overarching stalking behaviour towards 121 known victims.
In January 2021, the Metropolitan Police said it was made aware of a list Vijapura had published online containing victims' personal details, as well as a short essay attempting to justify raping the women and more victims came to light during the police investigation.
On many other occasions, Vijapura took the victims images from their personal social media profiles and published these with a rhetoric stating that the victims enjoyed outlandish sexual gratification.
He also published posts online of them with their personal details encouraging serious sexual violence against them, the Met Police said.
Vijapura sent many of the victims --- who span across 16 police areas of England --- direct messages containing “vile and horrific topics with sexualised themes throughout”.
“These victims have provided evidence and impact statements, as well as providing evidence of them receiving or being aware of online correspondence from Vijapura.
Evidence was also gathered showing Vijapura identified the victims online and then followed this up by paying for online services in order to obtain their names and address details,” the Met Police said.
Following the publication of the online list and the associated essay, Vijapura was arrested on January 28 last year and subsequently bailed with conditions, pending the download and review of his many electronic devices.
In March 2021, Vijapura was arrested again in relation to a new offence and by then he was also found in breach of his police bail conditions.
The Met Police said detectives managed a complex investigation involving the forensic analysis of many devices in order to gain the necessary evidence to get Vijapura to face justice in court.