The day Robert James Campbell quit his job, he went home and started plotting revenge against everyone he felt had wronged him in life. He says he didn’t leave his Ottawa apartment for seven months.
The online campaign of harassment and hatred he’s accused of launching spanned more than a decade. He is accused of creating fake online profiles to destroy reputations in short order, presenting his targets to the world as child predators, members of a Nazi party, exotic dancers and prostitutes.
Police roused Campbell on the morning of July 31 and arrested him on 181 charges of criminal harassment, identity theft and defamatory libel.
In what police called a cowardly and sophisticated online campaign, Campbell, 42, has been accused of terrorizing 38 victims in the United Kingdom, the United States and in Canada, 18 of whom are from Ottawa.
Awaiting his first trip through the legal system, he’s now at the Innes Road jail, where he shares a cell with two other inmates who sleep on the floor.
In an interview with the Citizen, Campbell publicly apologized to his alleged victims and says he has instructed his lawyer to file a guilty plea.
“I want to take the opportunity to apologize wholeheartedly to the people I have hurt. I hope in time they can forgive me, and I hope they can go about their lives, assured that I will never trouble them again,” Campbell said.
“Basically, I did what I did because I wanted some sort of revenge against the people who harassed me. At the same time, I didn’t think anyone would take the fake emails and LinkedIn accounts seriously,” he said.
He is resigned to a jail sentence, and said the Crown is seeking a five-year federal term. He said a sentence at a federal penitentiary would afford him the help he needs.
“As I pay my debt to society, I will continue to seek help with my mental health issues. My goal is that upon my release I can become a productive member of the community,” he said.
Born on July 29, 1972 in London, England, Campbell moved to Canada in 1993, and became a citizen in 1997.
He sounds proud when he talks about his Canadian citizenship, but then ashamed of what he is accused of doing.
In 2001, he says, he quit his job after he claims to have been subjected to unbearable ridicule, “general bullying stuff,” over 18 months at the office. He claimed colleagues mocked his accent and repeatedly made derogatory remarks.
The cyber attacks he’s been accused of perpetrating have been described as a constant online campaign of harassment.
Campbell, by his own account, says he had “escalated” his actions in the last year before a joint-police operation dubbed Project Winter led to his arrest.
“I got carried away and became desensitized to what I was doing,” he said. “I was under extreme mental duress when I did those things. I was deeply traumatized by past experiences and plagued by bad memories virtually every waking hour of every day.”
The online cyber-bullying not only attacked former colleagues of Campbell, but their families and friends.
Campbell is also accused of targeting people from his life back in England.
Everyone, it seemed had somehow wronged him but he now acknowledges that it was he who became the aggressor.
He is accused of creating fake email accounts designed to humiliate victims at their workplace with messages to co-workers about sex parties, their poor parenting skills and in one case, the intimate details of someone’s failed pregnancy.
He likens his arrest to an intervention and told the Citizen he is now focused on getting the help he says he needs.
“Thanks to the intervention of the police and the Crown, I now accept that I crossed the line into harassment. That said, I’ve never threatened anyone and I would never dream of hurting anyone physically. I know, though, that I am in the wrong and therefore I have co-operated fully with the police,” said Campbell, who said he’s been diagnosed with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
At a recent court appearance, one victim, after 12 years of alleged harassment, expressed relief about Campbell’s arrest.
“Today is a great day,” said the victim. “It’s been a quarter of my life. That’s crazy.”