Lenny Henry’s daughter pretended to be him to avoid being dumped

Lenny Henry's daughter pretended to be her dad, in a bid to avoid being dumped by her boyfriend.

Billie Roma Henry, 28, used her famous family connections in a "manipulative" and "threatening" way, a judge was told.

She was adopted by Lenny and Dawn French when she was just a few weeks old.

Billie set up a fake email account using Lenny's name, which was then used to send messages to boyfriend Samuel King.

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It offered money to save his business and stop him from being evicted.

The message was part of a sustained campaign of harassment that saw Billie, of Plymouth, given a suspended prison sentence today.

In further messages sent to the victim, the defendant falsely claimed her father assaulted her, which the court heard was just an attempt to gain sympathy.

She had pleaded guilty to malicious communication at at a previous hearing at Truro Crown Court after denying a charge of controlling or coercive behaviour.

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The offences took place over five months in Dobwalls, Cornwall, between 2018 and 2019.

At her sentencing hearing today Judge Simon Carr sentenced her to an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

The defendant was also given a five year restraining order stopping her from contacting the victim.

Judge Carr told her: “You were in a relationship with Samuel King and you found forming relationships difficult.

Lenny Henry and Dawn French

“When the relationship ended you found it difficult to accept and set up a number of false emails.

''You sent a barrage of messages, most manipulative and some threatening.

“Your primary motivation was to try and continue the relationship and the messages were very substantial in number and went on for five months.

“It had a significant psychological and financial effect on him.

“You had an at times unique childhood which must have been very challenging. You never sought any publicity but publicity follows you for reasons beyond your control.

“I hope you receive the help you need and the support to assist you.”

Truro Crown Court heard how Billie first met the victim in May 2018 while he was single.

Billie Roma Henry is pictured arriving at court, December 13 2019.

Her behaviour towards him was described by prosecutors as "suffocating" and she would "bombard" him with messages and caused issues with him seeing his son from a previous relationship.

The court heard that her behaviour got so bad that he wanted to end their relationship after just five months.

Prosecuting, Simon Farmer told the court: “Then there followed a complex series of highly manipulative false messages sent by Billie Henry to try and continue the relationship as she couldn’t accept it was over.”

Mr Farmer said the victim later received emails appearing to be from Lenny Henry that the defendant had set up offering financial help to prevent him being evicted and save his business.

A second fake account was also set up claiming to belong to Lenny Henry’s secretary.

Mr Farmer added: “The defendant’s overriding purpose was to keep Samuel King in a relationship with her.

''The messages caused distress and anxiety and were intended to provoke extreme sympathy.

“Billie Henry falsely pretended to be he father saying he would help Samuel King out of debt by paying him large amounts of money.

“She also claimed to Mr King that her father had assaulted her and made threats to Mr King too.”

The court heard that Billie had initially told police she had been hacked – before admitting her role.

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Defending, Jo Martin QC said her client had a "unique" childhood and had never wanted to be in the public eye.

She added: “The main motivation was to get attention and continue the relationship.

“That doesn’t excuse what she did and she has expressed remorse and recognised the distress she caused Samuel King and her own parents.

“She is a woman of previous good character and was adopted as a baby by Dawn French and Lenny Henry.

"Her formative years were unusual and unique. Her parents did all they could to keep her out of the public eye but despite this she was still subject to press reporting and that had an effect on her childhood. She never wanted to be in the public eye.”

The court heard Billie was currently unemployed and currently undergoing counselling.